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I am grateful to the members of my committee — F. Leslie 
Smith, Bernell E. Tripp, David H. Ostroff, John W. Wright, 
and Thomas P. Auxter— for their suggestions and insights. 
I am particularly grateful to my chairman, F. Leslie Smith, 
for the many hours he spent critiquing this work and for 
introducing me to the pleasures of the rewrite. I am 
grateful to Bernell Tripp for introducing me to the 
fascinating world of history and for trying to teach me how 
it is done. I am also grateful to Tom Auxter for showing 
me a new way to look at the ethics of communication. 







Background 2 

Three Broadcast Community Journalists 13 

Joe Brechner 14 

Norm Davis 16 

Ralph Renick 19 

Problem, Purpose, Research Questions, 

Methodology, Significance, Scope and 

Limitations 20 

Problem 21 

Purpose 22 

Research Questions 22 

Significance 23 

Methodology 24 

Scope and Limitations 28 


Community Journalism 32 

Beyond a Proper Literature Review: Partisan 

Viewpoints 57 

Social Responsibility Theory 65 

Works on Brechner, Davis, and Renick 65 



The Commission Is Formed 75 

Press Reaction 79 

Commission Goals 83 

Recommendations to Government 8 

Recommendations to the Press ° 

Recommendations to the Public ° q 

Citizens' Commission ' ■ 

Effects of the Report 



Selfless or Self-Serving? 96 

The Community Journalism Projects Sponsored by 

the Pew Center for Civic Journalism 99 







New Orleans 




Impact of Regulations 131 

Timid Editorialists 1^ ' 

Network Guidance 1 *~ 

Local Stations l 

20™ CENTURY 155 

The 1960s in America i56 

Civil Rights Background in Florida 161 

Imported Attitudes 165 

The Ku Klux Klan in Florida I 69 

17 9 

A Statewide View x 

St. Augustine 173 

Tampa "« 

Orlando 18 ° 

Miami 186 

History of Consolidation Attempts in 

Jacksonville I 87 



The Nation' s First Nightly TV Editorials 198 

The Renick Editorials 204 

The Crusades 21 

The "B-Girl" Editorials 213 

The Restaurant Crusade 216 

The Crime Crusade 223 

Renick and Civil Rights 230 

Jacksonville 233 

St. Augustine 236 

New Orleans 243 

Los Angeles "* 

Miami 246 


The Editorials Begin 267 

Davis Background 2 68 

The Davis Editorial Campaign ^ 27 3 

Other Issues Being Covered by the Press in 

the Mid-Sixties 277 

The WJXT School Editorials 281 

City and County Services Deteriorate 291 

The WJXT-TV Investigations 294 

The Grand Jury 307 

The Indictments 308 

Corn Patch Camp 309 

What The People Involved Say About WJXT' s Role. 314 
What Others Have Said About WJXT' s Role 321 

WFTV-TV 326 

Brechner' s Motivations 32 9 

The Brechner Family Moves to Orlando 332 

Editorial Themes 337 

Examples of Editorials Using Brechner' s 

Four Themes 3 41 

It Could Happen Here 341 

Praise J,,L 

Patriotism 34 ^ 

It' s Good Business 353 

A Voice For Minorities 355 


Beyond Editorials JDO 



Brechner 3 

Davis J * 

Renick 375 

Conclusions 37 ° 

What is Community Journalism? 37 7 

Brechner, Davis, and Renick: Real Community 

Journalists? 378 

Worthy of Imitation? 380 

Community Journalists of the 1990s 380 


Discussion J °^ 

Leading the Way 387 

Friends in the Front Office 389 

Motivation is Primary 391 

Suggestions for Further Research 392 







Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School 

of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the 

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 



Joseph L. Glover 

August 2000 

Chairman: F. Leslie Smith 

Major Department: Mass Communication 

This dissertation is a historical study of three 

broadcast editorialists working in Florida during the 

tumultuous 1960s. The three editorialists were Joe 

Brechner, owner and general manager of WFTV-TV in Orlando; 

Norm Davis, editorial director of WJXT-TV in Jacksonville; 

and Ralph Renick, news and editorial director of WTVJ-TV in 

Miami. The works of Brechner and Davis examined in this 

study revolve around single editorial campaigns. In the 

case of Brechner, the topic was civil rights. Davis 

focused on governmental corruption and inefficiency. 

Renick, who editorialized first and for the longest period 

of time, conducted several editorial campaigns. His work 

on governmental corruption, crime, restaurant sanitation, 
and civil rights are examined herein. 

The three editorialists are compared to members of the 
press in the 1990s who called themselves "community 
journalists." The following questions are asked: (1) What 
is community journalism? (2) Were the three editorialists 
who are the focus of this dissertation community 
journalists? (3) Should modern journalists consider 
Brechner, Davis, and Renick journalists to be emulated? 

In order to avoid either present-mindedness or past- 
mindedness, particular attention is paid to context. The 
regulatory climate for 1960s broadcasters who chose to 
editorialize is examined. The events of the decade are a 
major part of the context. It was those events from which 
the editorialists chose their topics. Lastly, motivation 
of editorialists and journalists studied for this work is 
examined. The touchstone for motivation is existential 
communitarianism, defined for this study as "concerned 
primarily with community, but drawing from the principles 
of existentialism to include concern for individuals within 
the community as well as concern for personal 
responsibility." It is within that framework that the 
efforts of the subjects of this research are measured. 


This dissertation is a historical study of three 
broadcast editorialists, working in Florida during the 
tumultuous 1960s. The three editorialists were Joe Brechner, 
owner and general manager of WFTV-TV in Orlando; Norm Davis, 
editorial director of WJXT-TV in Jacksonville; and Ralph 
Renick, news and editorial director of WTVJ-TV in Miami. The 
works of Brechner and Davis examined in this study revolve 
around single editorial campaigns. In the case of Brechner, 
the topic was civil rights. Davis focused on governmental 
corruption and inefficiency. Renick, who editorialized first 
and for the longest period of time, conducted several 
editorial campaigns. His work on governmental corruption, 
crime, restaurant sanitation, and civil rights is examined 

The three editorialists are compared to members of the 
press in the 1990s who called themselves "community 

This chapter introduces the reader to the three 
editorialists, to the community journalism against which they 
are measured, and to the problems that motivated 1990s 
members of the press to begin calling themselves "community 

Since the Hutchins Commission met in the mid-1940s and 
completed A Free and Responsible Press, 1 some members of the 
United States press have been trying to prove that they can 
be both free and responsible. 2 According to many press 
critics, the attempt has been a dismal failure. A recent 
Newseum survey of public perception of the press reveals some 
discouraging, although not surprising, news for journalists. 3 

The 1999 survey frequently referred to the results of a 
similar 1997 survey and found that "the news media are in 
deep trouble." 4 The 1997 survey found: 

1 Commission on Freedom of the Press, A Free and Responsible 
Press: A General Report on Mass Communication: Newspapers, 
Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines, and Books (Chicago: The 
University of Chicago Press (1947), 4. 

James Fallows, Breaking the News (New York: Pantheon Books, 
1996) . 

"State of the First Amendment: A survey of public 
attitudes," a Freedom Forum survey, sponsored by the First 
Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, 1999. 

4 Ibid. 

• Although most people trust most or all of what 
ministers, priests, rabbis and doctors say, only 53% 
place similar trust in their local TV anchors. Even 
fewer trust what network TV anchors say and just under a 
third trust newspaper reporters. 

• Ethically, people see journalists not as the equals of 
teachers, doctors and priests, but as being among those 
with agendas to advance — politicians, lawyers and 
corporate officials. 

• Special interests are pulling strings in newsrooms, 
most Americans believe. They think profit motives, 
politicians, media owners, big business and advertisers 
influence the way news is reported and presented. 

• Surprisingly, what bothers people most about 
journalists is not that they favor a "liberal point of 
view," but that journalists are insensitive to people's 
pain when covering disasters and accidents. Most people 
also are more strongly concerned about journalists 
spending too much time on the personal lives of public 
officials, paying too little attention to issues of 
concern to young people, using unidentified sources and 
offering their own opinions than they are about liberal 

• A majority of the Americans surveyed (64%) also say a 
major problem with news is that it is too sensational. 5 

The 1999 survey, according to the Freedom Forum, 

indicated public trust in the media was diminishing even 

further. Respondents expressed a 15-percent increase in the 

belief that the press has too much freedom. More respondents 

said newspapers should not be able to publish freely without 

Quoted from the 1997 Newseum Survey by the Roper Center for 
Public Opinion Research, The Freedom Forum Media Studies 
Center and the Newseum on the Freedom Forum home page, The Roper Center 
administered the questionnaire to 1,500 American adults. The 
sampling error is 2.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence 

government approval, that they should not be allowed to 
endorse or criticize political candidates, that journalists 
should not be able to use hidden cameras for newsgathering, 
and should not be able to publish government secrets. 6 

The number of people who felt the press had too much 
freedom also grew in 1999. The number who felt the press 
should be able to keep sources confidential fell, and Table 1 
shows that "the bad news just keeps coming." 

The Freedom Forum reports went on to say: 

These findings indicate that the news media are in 
deep trouble with the American public. A variety of 
studies, surveys, and focus groups document a real 
resentment of the press and its practices among 
Americans, who characterize the news media as arrogant, 
inaccurate, superficial, sensational, biased and bent. 
Worse, they apparently believe that the press is part of 
the problem, rather than part of the solution. 

In a study conducted earlier this year by the Pew 
Research Center for The People & The Press, 32% of those 
surveyed said they thought the media were declining in 
influence, compared to 17% in 1985. The number of those 
saying the media protects democracy dropped from 54% in 

The 1999 Freedom Forum Survey by the Center for Survey 
Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, The 
Freedom Forum Media Studies Center and the Newseum. Found 
at : http : //www. f reedomf orum. org/f irst/sof a/1999/welcome . asp . 
The survey results are based on telephone interviews by the 
Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University 
of Connecticut with 1,001 adults, ages eighteen or older, 
conducted 26 February to 24 March 1999. Margin of error is 
plus or minus 3 percent with a 95 percent confidence 

Table 1. Results of 1999 Freedom Forum Survey. 

19 97 






















Even though the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the 
press, government has placed some restrictions on it. 
Overall, do you think the press in America has too much 
freedom to do what it wants, too little freedom to do what it 
wants, or is the amount of freedom the press has about right? 

Too much freedom 

Too little freedom 

About right 


Newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without 
government approval of a story. 

Strongly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly disagree 


Journalists should be allowed to keep a news source 
confidential . 

1997 1999 
Strongly agree 58% 48% 
Mildly agree 27% 31% 
Mildly disagree 6% 10% 
Strongly disagree 6% 9% 
DK/Ref 2% 3% 

Broadcasters should be allowed to televise courtroom trials. 

Strongly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly disagree 


Newspapers should be allowed to endorse or criticize 
political candidates. 

Strongly agree 
Mildly agree 
Mildly disagree 
Strongly disagree 

























Table l--Continued. 

The news media should be allowed to report government secrets 
that have come to journalists' attention. 

Strongly agree 
Mildly agree 
Mildly disagree 
Strongly disagree 

























Television networks should be allowed to project winners of 
an election while people are still voting. 

Strongly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly disagree 


High school students should be allowed to report 
controversial issues in their student newspapers without 
approval of school authorities. 

Strongly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly disagree 


Journalists should be allowed to use hidden cameras in their 

Strongly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly disagree 


Broadcasters should be allowed to televise the proceedings of 
the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Strongly agree 44% 

Mildly agree 29% 

Mildly disagree 11% 

Strongly disagree 12% 

DK/Ref 3% 

19 97 












19 97 












Table 1 — Continued. 

Journalists should be allowed to investigate the private 
lives of public figures. 

Strongly agree "* 

Mildly agree ^J 

Mildly disagree La * 

Strongly disagree 42 * 

DK/Ref . — 


Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: 
group that wants should be allowed to hold a rally for a 
cause or issue even if it may be offensive to others in the 

Strongly agree 
Mildly agree 
Mildly disagree 
Strongly disagree 













Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The 
government should regulate what appears on television. 

Strongly agree 20 * 

Mildly agree 25 * 

Mildly disagree 21 * 

Strongly disagree 32% 



1985 to 45%. Conversely, 38% said that the media hurt 
democracy; only 23% said that in 1985. 

These complaints sound quite similar to the complaints 

put forward by the Hutchins Commission in 1947, a fact noted 

in the Freedom Forum report. The commission, albeit 

unintentionally, laid the foundation for a 1990s journalism 

phenomenon that was promoted as the road to salvation for an 

ailing press. It is called "community journalism," "civic 

journalism," "communitarian journalism," public journalism," 

"solutions journalism" and sometimes "conversations 

journalism." 8 The terms are frequently used interchangeably 

by journalists and will be used interchangeably here, 

although "community journalism" will be the preferred and 

most often used term. That phenomenon, however, is a siren 

song that may lead journalism in the opposite direction. 

Defining the phenomenon is also difficult. There are 

many definitions of community journalism. Davis Merritt, now 

senior editor at the Wichita Eagle, defines it as "a 

pragmatic recognition that people flooded with contextless, 

7 Ibid. 

6 As of May 2000 there was still a discussion underway about 
drawing fine distinctions between these terms. At the 1998 
conference on public journalism at the University of South 
Carolina attendees agreed to use the terms interchangeably, 
at least for the length of the conference, to avoid further 
confusing the issue. This dissertation follows that example. 

fragmentary, episodic, value-neutral information can' t make 
effective work of their decision-making." 9 New York 
University journalism professor Jay Rosen writes, 
"Traditional journalism worries about remaining properly 
detached. Public journalism worries about becoming properly 
attached. So: public journalism becomes the undeveloped art 
of attachment to the communities in which journalists do 
their work." 10 

Ed Lambeth, a professor of journalism at the University 
of Missouri-Columbia, says there are several steps in doing 
public journalism. Journalists must: 

• Examine alternative ways to frame stories on important 
community issues. 

• Choose frames that stand the best chance to stimulate 
citizen deliberation and build public understanding of 

• Listen systematically to the stories and ideas of 
citizens even while protecting [ press] freedom to 
choose what to cover. 

• Take the initiative to report on major public problems 
in a way that advances public knowledge of possible 
solutions and the values served by alternative courses 
of action. 

• Pay continuing and systematic attention to how well and 
how credibly [ the press] is communicating with the 
public. 11 

Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Mayer, and Esther Thorsen, 
Assessing Public Journalism (Columbia: University of Missouri 
Press, 1998), 90. 

10 Ibid., 90. 


Another proponent of community journalism is Jennie 
Buckner. Buckner is the editor of the Charlotte Observer and 
sees public journalism as utilitarian: "When writing about 
public life, we try to provide readers with the information 
they need to function as citizens." 12 Billy Winn of the 
Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-£nguirer defines the practice in terms 
closer to classical communitarianism 13 when he says, "You must 
risk some of yourself; you must get into the boat with the 
people ." 14 

This communitarian attitude leads to a definition that 
grows out of the present study and becomes evident in the 
work of the three broadcasters around whom this research 
revolves. It is a definition that most accurately describes 
what the three editorialists were presenting to 1960s 
television audiences. A community journalist is, quite 

12 Ibid., 225. 

13 Communitarianism is described as "the thesis that the 
community, rather than the individual, the state, the nation, 
or any other entity, is and should be at the center of our 
analysis and our value system" in Ted Honderich, ed., The 
Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1995), 143. 

14 Billy Winn, Lecture at University of Florida, Spring 1996. 


simply, someone who is willing to put the interests of 
community above one's own interests. 

This definition is not what most community journalists 
espouse. Normally, community journalism is an attempt to 
make the journalist part of the community and, therefore, a 
beneficiary of the public journalism project. That is not 
what Ralph Renick, Joe Brechner, and Norm Davis intended. 
They intended one thing — that their editorials would 
contribute to the social health of their communities. In 
each case, it was communitarianism with an important 
additional factor — an element of existentialism. 15 Each of 
these editorialists was intent on making the most of his 
talents to enrich the lives of his community and the 
individuals in those communities rather than surrendering to 
the "tyranny of the majority" or waiting for someone else to 
right the wrongs they saw. In this way, they were unlike 

Defined in Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary as 
"A chiefly 20 th Century philosophy that is centered upon the 
analysis of existence specif, of individual human beings, 
that regards human existence as not exhaustively describable 
or understandable in idealistic or scientific terms, and that 
stresses the freedom and responsibility of the individual, 
the irreducible unigueness of an ethical or religious 
situation, and usu. the isolation and subjective experiences 
(as of anxiety, guilt, dread, anguish) of an individual 
therein." (Springfield, MA: G & C. Merriam Company, 1976), 


communitarians who sacrifice individualism and individual 
rights for the sake of community. 16 They were existential- 
communitarians, a seemingly self -contradictory term, but an 
accurate description. This study is concerned with 
determining whether they were community journalists before 
community journalism became a journalism movement. 

The Hutchins Commission, which will be examined in 
chapter 3 of this study, foreshadowed some of the ideas 
embodied in community journalism. The commission' s findings 
reveal that there were many of the same concerns about the 
press in the 1940s as there were fifty years later. Chapter 4 
will outline current attempts to improve public perception of 
press practices and practitioners. It will also be revealed 
that those attempts, through community journalism, are 
misguided and sometimes disingenuous. 

In addition, this study will show that what is sometimes 
referred to as "old-fashioned journalism in new clothes" 17 is, 
in fact, the way to reverse the erosion of public trust in 
journalism and, in particular, television journalism. The 

Ralph D. Barney, "Community Journalism: Good Intentions, 
Questionable Practice," Journal of Mass Media Ethics 11, 3 
(1996) : 140-151. 

M. Gordon, "Civic Journalism: Involving the Public," The 
Seattle Times, 17 April 1996, B5. 


present chapter will briefly introduce three 1960s 
broadcasters who practiced community journalism long before 
it had acquired the name and, most important, practiced 
community journalism in a manner classical communitarians 
would consider appropriate. The work of these three 
broadcasters will be the primary focus of this dissertation. 

Much of the background for these early chapters is based 
on the work of newspaper journalists because it is the 
newspapers that have most actively promoted community 
journalism. As is noted below, newspaper journalists 
frequently involve broadcasters in their projects, usually as 
tag-alongs using, and being used by, their print partners. 
Three Broadcast Community Journalists 
There are many different views of community journalism 
and communitarianism. Louis Hodges of Washington and Lee 
University frequently writes on issues of journalism ethics. 
It is Hodges' view of communitarianism as a means of 
enhancing individual liberty that most closely fits the 
approach taken by the three editorialists who are the subject 
of this study. They were all most concerned about their 
communities but did not allow themselves to be swallowed by 
the communitarian tendency to allow the group to become more 


important than the individuals for which it was established. 18 
All three broadcasters used editorials to accomplish their 
purposes. Unlike many 1990s community journalists, all three 
considered ratings and income secondary to operating in the 
best interests of the individuals who made up their 

Because all three felt it was their duty to better their 
communities, all three can be considered existential 
communitarians. "Existential communitarianism" is a term 
that must be defined for complete understanding of the 
discussion that follows. So it will be possible to refer 
back to what is meant by existential communitarianism, the 
definition, which will be based upon the preceding 
description of the actions of Brechner, Davis, and Renick, 
will be established for the rest of this dissertation as 
follows: Concerned primarily with community, but drawing from 
the principles of existentialism to include concern for 
individuals within the community as well as concern for 
personal responsibility. 

Joe Brechner 

Joe Brechner was principal owner and manager of Channel 
9 in Orlando, first as WLOF-TV, then as WFTV-TV from 1958 to 

Barney, "Community Journalism," 145. 


1984. When he arrived in Orlando in 1953 to acquire part 
ownership in radio station WLOF-AM, he had already 
established a reputation for speaking out for causes he 
thought in the interests of the community. 19 

Brechner had laid the groundwork for his active part in 
community affairs at WGAY radio in Silver Spring, Maryland. 
Brechner and John Kluge founded WGAY-AM-FM when they were 
released from the U.S. Army following World War II. Money 
from the sale of WGAY financed Brechner' s move into the 
Orlando broadcasting market. Although Kluge owned a portion 
of the Orlando operation, he was moving in other directions, 
and it was Brechner who would build the Orlando television 
station, using it as a platform for his brand of community 
journalism. Brechner' s most frequently visited editorial 
topic was civil rights. At a time when there were few 
integrated facilities and when there was a strong Ku Klux 
Klan presence in Orlando, a city with many of the 
characteristics of other southern cities in the 1960s, 
Brechner was not only hiring African-Americans to work at his 

9 Joe Glover, "Joe Brechner' s Castle in the Air - The WGAY 
Years: 1946-47 ," 2000. Unpublished paper presented at the 
2000 Broadcast Education Association annual conference in Las 
Vegas, Nevada. 

station, he was campaigning for equal rights for all 

Norm Davis 
On 8 August 1967, the voters of Jacksonville and Duval 
County, Florida, went to the polls to decide what form of 
government they wanted. The choice was simple. Would they 
continue to have what critics of the area' s political system 
considered a redundant, wasteful, corrupt form of government 
with one group of elected and appointed officials for 
Jacksonville and another for Duval County, or would they 
clean house by consolidating their governments? They had 
been subjected to a vigorous, sometimes bitter, campaign with 
strong arguments on both sides. Many office holders and 
their cronies who had benefited under the existing system 
pulled out all the stops in their attempts to maintain the 
status quo. They tried to convince black voters that 
consolidation was an attempt to keep power out of the hands 
of the African-American community. 21 They argued directly to 
the African-American community that whites from the suburbs 

Joe Glover, "Joe Brechner' s Strategy for Orlando, Florida: 
The 1960s Civil Rights Editorials of WFTV-TV," 1998. 
Unpublished paper presented at 1998 American Journalism 
Historians Association Annual Conference in Louisville, KY. 

Richard Martin, Consolidation: Jacksonville, Duval County 
(Jacksonville: Convention Press, Inc., 1968), 160. 


would control the city. They claimed that consolidation was 
a communist-inspired idea. 

Residents of areas outside the city had been bombarded 
with warnings that they would be giving up the independence 
they had always enjoyed and that they would be paying taxes 
to support the workings of the City of Jacksonville. If they 
voted against consolidation, citizens of the area would have 
been continuing a long tradition of refusing to become part 
of a massive area government. 23 

Why then did this vote turn out differently from earlier 
referenda on Jacksonville area consolidation? Why, when the 
ballots were counted, had area voters approved consolidation 
by an almost 2-1 margin? 2,1 Furthermore, why had county voters 
approved consolidation by a margin of 8-5? Given the 
similarities between the 1967 election and other elections 
involving issues of combined governments for the Jacksonville 
area, which will be described in chapter 7, what was the 
difference in this one? 

Several factors contributed to the outcome in this 
complicated issue, such as strong leadership, willingness of 

22 Ibid., 155. 


consolidation backers to tweak the plan to accommodate 
opponents, strong African-American support, teamwork between 
legislators and local proponents, almost wholehearted 
business support, and strong media support once backers of 
the plan started their work. 25 One of the major differences, 
however, was the work of a group of investigative reporters 
at television station WJXT. 

The reporters, led by News Director Bill Grove and 
Editorial Director Norm Davis, started their work in early 
1964. Less than three years later, in late 1996, when the 
Local Government Study Commission released its recommendation 
for consolidation, eight county and city officials who had 
been subjects of WJXT investigative reports and editorials 
were indicted on 104 counts. The counts involved 
expenditures of government funds for personal items, the use 
of government vehicles for personal needs, padding payrolls, 
subverting the competitive bidding system to award contracts 
to favorite companies, bribery, perjury, and grand larceny. 
WJXT was alone in its zeal to uncover the wrongs in area 
government. It is impossible to prove, but well within the 
realm of possibility that had WJXT not begun exposing 

25 Ibid., 226-234. 


malfeasance in government in 1964 there would not have been a 
successful 1967 consolidation movement. 

The editorial crusade undertaken by WJXT targeted 
corrupt government in the city and county, put WJXT income in 
danger, and put the lives of station personnel at risk. It 
was, nonetheless, another example of genuine community 
journalism. 26 

Ralph Renick 
Ralph Renick served as news director and anchor of WTVJ- 
TV in Miami for thirty-five years, commencing in 1950. The 
station began doing editorials in 1957, with Renick as 
editorial director and presenter. When his tenure at WTVJ was 
over, he estimated that he had delivered more than 50,000 
editorials. 27 Many of Renick' s editorials, like those of 
WJXT, involved local government corruption. 28 

A crusade against governmental inadequacies and another 
against unsanitary conditions in Miami restaurants, as well 

26 Joe Glover, "Media Influence on City-County Consolidation 
in Jacksonville and Duval County, Florida, 1967." Unpublished 
paper, 1997, University of Florida. 

27 S.L. Alexander, "May the Good News Be Yours: Ralph Renick 
and Florida' s First News" Mass Comm Review 19, 2 (Winter- 
Spring 1992) : 57-63. 

28 Gerald Vincent Flannery, "Local Television Editorializing: 
A Case Study of the Editorials of Ralph Renick on WTVJ-TV" 

(Ph.D. diss., Ohio University, 1966). 


as continuing editorials on race relations, best illustrated 

the communitarianism aspects of Renick' s editorializing. In 

the first case, seventy-three editorials against inadequate 

law enforcement were broadcast in 1966. In the second case, 

a series of twelve editorials about unsanitary conditions in 

Miami restaurants aired in 1973. 29 In all three crusades, 

Renick was risking the station' s bottom-line. The restaurant 

campaign, for instance, brought "an almost daily danger of 

advertising losses and lawsuits," as well as resulting in 

assault and battery charges against a restaurateur who 

physically attacked a WTVJ reporter and cameraman. 30 

Problem. Purpose. Research Questions. Methodology. 
Significance. Scope and Limitations 

The function of this portion of the introductory chapter 

is to outline the structure of this research. It is divided 

into six sections. In the first section, the problem of lack 

of public trust in the press is described. In part two, the 

purpose of this research, which is to illuminate possible 

remedies for the problem, is outlined. Part three lists the 

questions to be answered. Methodology is described in part 

29 Paul Ashdown, "Television and the Editorial Crusade: A Case 
Study of WTVJ- TV, 1965-1973" (Ph.D. diss., Bowling Green 
State University, 1975) . 

30 Ibid., 130. 


four. In part five, the significance of this work is set 
forth. Finally, scope and limitations are specified in part 


The first problem to be faced in this study is 
determining what it is that makes community journalism 
community journalism, to determine what the qualities are 
that distinguish community journalism from standard 

A second problem is distinguishing what it was that made 
Joe Brechner, Norm Davis, and Ralph Renick community 
journalists, distinguishing what it was that made them 
different from journalists in the 1990s who claimed they were 
practicing community journalism. 

A third problem is determining what community journalism 
is supposed to do, and if it is not doing that, why not? 
This third problem is reflected in the Freedom Forum surveys 
cited in this chapter. Journalists are under fire for 
failing to shed light on their communities' problems, for 
failing to investigate stories in depth, for favoring stories 
or reporting techniques that sensationalize the news. 
Readers and viewers are increasingly less inclined to grant 
the press the full protections of the First Amendment. 


Newspapers and broadcast news organizations are suffering 
losses in readership and viewership. In order to win those 
news consumers back, some members of the press are turning to 
community journalism and, in so doing, may be widening the 
gap between news consumers and news reporters . 


The purpose of this study will be to compare and 
contrast the community journalism of today with the community 
journalism practiced by Brechner, Davis, and Renick. With 
that comparison as a reference point, the research attempts 
to determine who the real practitioners of public journalism 
are, or were. This is a topic important to today' s 
journalists who are searching for ways to restore their 
credibility and public trust. The present study suggests it 
is possible Brechner, Renick, and Davis can light the way. 
Research Questions 

As indicated above, researchers must ask, "What is it? 
What is community journalism?" This dissertation attempts 
not so much to define community journalism as it was 
practiced in the 1990s as to describe it. A second question 
to be answered by this study is, "Were the three 
editorialists who are the focus of this dissertation 
community journalists?" That will become evident in 


subsequent chapters and will be discussed in the appropriate 
section. Also to be answered is the question of whether 
today 7 s community journalists could consider Brechner, Davis, 
and Renick journalists to be emulated. 

On a philosophical level, Aristotle told those at the 
agora that a virtuous deed is virtuous only if it is done for 
its own sake. If the good result of an ostensibly virtuous 
deed is only a by-product of the action, if the action was 
performed with another end in mind, then the deed is not 
virtuous. 31 If community journalism falls into the second 
category, it is a sham. This research attempts to determine 
which practitioners of community journalism were, or are, 
community journalists as defined above. On a more practical 
level, one must ask if the community journalism of today 7 s 
practitioners is the way to accomplish community journalism' s 
stated goals. That is, to bring back the audiences that have 
turned away from newspapers and television news in such great 
numbers or, would community journalism as practiced by 
Brechner, Renick, and Davis be more effective in the long 

Aristotle, The Nichomachean Ethics, D. Ross, trans. 
(Oxford: Oxford Press, 1987), 53. 


Additionally, the three broadcasters studied for this 
work working in a state that was not fully of the South or of 
the North. They were working in a state that was in 
transition and, therefore, represented a middle ground of 

Brechner, Davis, and Renick are crucial to understanding 
the shift in momentum for television editorializing in the 
1960s, which would pave the way for the next stage of 
community journalism. They are part of the continuum along 
which journalism has developed. Broadcasters before them 
avoided editorializing. In the 1960s, broadcast 
editorializing increased. In a limited number of cases, it 
was editorializing with a strong element of crusading. In 
more recent times, editorializing and crusading journalism 
have decreased, in part because of business factors. 


The research relies heavily on primary sources and 
material. The primary material is used to lay a baseline for 
further research. It is used to illustrate what the 
editorialists were doing and, when possible, what they were 
thinking, what their motivations were. 


University of Florida journalism professor Bernell Tripp 
has offered five guidelines for use in determining choice of 
biographical subjects: 

1. Depth of influence: profession/sphere; era; 

2. Peer recognition 

3. Contribution to history as a whole 

4 . Access to " true voice" 

5. Personal interest 32 

All three of the subjects of this dissertation qualify 
under Tripp' s standards. All were influential in their 
profession, in their time, and in their community. All 
received recognition from both their professional peers and 
their fellow citizens. Because of the relatively short 
amount of time that has passed since the three editorialists 
were at work, it would be precipitous to attempt to determine 
their overall place in history. However, because they are 
acknowledged as having been editorial pioneers, it is not 
presumptuous to expect that, in time, their importance will 
be considered substantial. There is access to true voice in 
all three cases. Some of the true voice is found in the 
editorials written by Brechner, Davis, and Renick and some of 

32 Bernell Tripp, Class lecture in "Biography as History," 26 
August 1998, University of Florida. 


it in other writings. In the case of Norm Davis, it is found 
in personal interviews. This true voice is invaluable in 
revealing motivation. Personal interest in journalists who 
contribute to the communities in which they live fulfills the 
final criterion. 

This research uses the many writings available on 
community journalism for context in the sections on current 
community journalism practices. There is ample background 
material, both secondary and primary, to provide context for 
the period when the three Florida editorialists were writing. 
Almost all of the editorials of the three Floridians are 
available for review. The editorials of Joe Brechner are now 
housed at the Orlando Historical Society. Norm Davis has 
kept some of his editorials in a personal archive. The 
Renick editorials are stored at the Wolfson Archive at the 
Miami-Dade Public Library. 

There are writings and transcriptions of speeches from 
the three editorialists. Some of these works are direct 
comment on the process of broadcast editorializing. This 
information is also valuable for purposes of attempting to 
determine motivation. Newspapers from Miami, Jacksonville, 
and Orlando are a secondary source of information about 
Brechner, Renick, and Davis. These newspapers frequently 


confirm information found in the primary material, as well as 
providing context. 

Oral history interviews are also a major part of this 
research. In several interviews, Joe Brechner' s widow, 
Marion, remembered a great deal of what was happening at 
WFTV-TV in the 1960s. She was in charge of public relations 
at the station during the period studied. Norm Davis, an 
attorney in Miami when this work was in progress, made 
himself available for interviews. Ralph Renick' s brother, 
his mother, his oldest daughter, and his only son were all 
willing to discuss his life and motivations. There are two 
doctoral dissertations available on Renick and WTVJ-TV. 33 
Both are described in the literature review section. 

It is fortunate that there is so much information 
available because what emerges from the writings of various 
historians who consider methodology is an overall sense that 
rigorous attention must be paid to context, to verifying that 
evidence is genuine, to its true meaning, to motivation of 
both the historian and his/her subjects, and that no one 
factor can be considered sufficient cause for what has 
happened in the past. For that reason, particular attention 

Ashdown, "Editorial Crusade" and Flannery, "Local 
Television Editorializing." 


is paid to other factors present during the time period and 
in the communities where the three editorialists worked. 
Scope and Limitations 
This study examines two time periods. The late 1950s 
through the early 1970s has been chosen for illustration of 
the work done by the three editorialists because it was 
during this time period that all three were editorially most 

In Jacksonville, WJXT-TV was a driving force behind the 
push for change in governmental structure. It was the WJXT 
editorials and investigative reporting that provided the 
motivation to make governmental consolidation a reality after 
a long history in Jacksonville of failure to win voter 
approval for consolidation. 

Joe Brechner had editorialized for years on his 
broadcast stations. As early as the late 1940s, Brechner was 
a strong editorial voice in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was 
also writing magazine articles in support of broadcast 
editorializing. It was, however, in Orlando that Brechner 1 s 
editorials promoting civil rights showed that a strong 
broadcast editorial voice in the community can make a strong 
and positive contribution. 


In Miami during this time, Ralph Renick was 
editorializing on several issues. Although many of those 
issues, such as taxes, city government, state government, and 
roads were important, Renick' s true communitarianism was 
exhibited in four editorial crusades: the first on organized 
crime in Miami and its effect on local law enforcement, the 
second on restaurant health standards, another on "B-Girl" 
strip joints, and a fourth on civil rights. 

The present research attempts to describe and analyze 
the community journalism efforts of the late 1980s and 1990s. 
It is in this more recent period that the community 
journalism effort became a major factor in both print and TV 
journalism. 34 It is against this recent standard that the 
research measures the community journalism efforts of the 
three Florida editorialists. 

Also included in this research is a limited examination 
of the news programs and documentaries of the stations where 
Brechner, Davis, and Renick worked. These other news- 
programming facets are covered only insofar as they were 
corollary to the editorial campaigns of the three 
editorialists. They help to explain the crusading nature of 

34 Michael Foley, "A Challenging New Dimension to Service, 
The Irish Times, 1 April 1988, 23. 


the overall work of the three editorialists and their 

In addition to the chapters on context, involving civil 
rights in Florida and the United States during the 
editorialists' time period, there is personal background on 
the editorialists. This background attempts to illuminate 
their motivations in practicing community journalism, but 
there is no attempt to present said background as biography; 
that is left for later works. 

This study is limited to the work of the three 
editorialists who are its focus and the 1990s community 
journalists with whom the editorialists are compared and 
contrasted. There is no attempt to include the work of other 
editorialists who were working in Florida or in other parts 
of the United States during the same time period. 

The examination of community journalism is limited to 
the decade of the 1990s. In a work devoted exclusively to 
the origins of community journalism, it would be possible, 
yea necessary, to examine some part of every era of 
journalism history, from the days of the American Revolution 
to the era of the muckrakers, to the Watergate era. That is 
also left to later research, for to include it would take 
this study far afield. Furthermore, it was in the 1990s that 


media outlets began calling what they were doing "community 

Freedom Forum surveys in 1997 and 1999 carried "bad 
news" for 1990s journalists. The surveys showed that 
American citizens were progressively less inclined to support 
full First Amendment rights for the press. News readers and 
viewers were increasingly disillusioned with the way the 
press had done its job. A group of journalists, in an 
attempt to regain viewer and reader loyalty, began practicing 
community journalism. The proclaimed purpose of community 
journalism was to give American citizens more information 
with which to participate in the public life of their 
communities. There was in community journalism, however, 
also an apparent motivation of selling newspapers and 
building television ratings. 

In an attempt to determine if community journalism of 
the 1990s was practiced with genuine communitarian 
motivations, this research compares the 1990s community 
journalists to three television editorialists who were 
working circa the 1960s and who appear to be genuine 
community journalists. 


The literature for this research comes from two areas. 
To determine the degree to which the three Florida 
editorialists were practicing community journalism, a review 
of the literature on community journalism is necessary. The 
other area deals with the editorialists themselves. 
Community Journalism 

The writings on community journalism fall into two 
groups. The first is academic; the second, opinion--opinions 
that fall on either side of the community journalism debate. 
Even the best known of the participants in the conversation 
tend to offer editorials rather than research. Several of 
the citations in the section below on academic works on 
community journalism are from a 1998 conference at the 
University of South Carolina. Some of the articles presented 
at that academic conference were of no use for an academic 
literature review because they, too, were no more than 
opinion. That is the location community journalists now 
occupy. They are part of a movement, if it can be called 



such, that is still being defined, a stage in which opinion 
is helping to write the definition. 

Accordingly, much of the written material on community 
journalism is opinion. That information will be covered 
below. The majority of what does exist in the way of 
academic research on community journalism deals either with 
print journalism or with the philosophical underpinnings of 
the movement. This material is valuable to the present 
research for the light it sheds on what community journalism 
claims to be and what it actually is. It is used to 
illustrate that Brechner, Davis, and Renick practiced a truer 
form of community journalism. 

Civic Lessons: A Report on Four Civic Journalism 
Projects is one of several studies funded by the Pew Center 
for Civic Journalism and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Esther 
Thorsen of the Center for Advanced Social Research at the 
University of Missouri and Lewis A. Friedland of the 
School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University 
of Wisconsin-Madison studied four civic journalism projects 
in 1996. Civic Lessons included civic journalism projects in 
Charlotte, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; San Francisco, 
California; and Binghamton, New York. 


Thorsen and Friedland were asked to "ascertain the 
impact of the projects in their respective communities; to 
determine what kinds of projects seem to work best and why; 
and to see what impact the projects had on the newsrooms 
involved." 35 With the assistance of several colleagues, 
Friedland interviewed subjects in newsrooms, in communities 
where civic journalism projects were underway, and in 
governmental offices in those communities. In all, 400 
people were interviewed. 

The foreword of Civic Lessons stated; 

By far the most significant finding in the evaluators ' 
report is that, on the whole, civic journalism is making 
progress toward its goals. It benefits both the 
communities it serves and the overall democratic 
process. Most people surveyed who were aware of the 
four projects chosen for study reported being more 
knowledgeable and concerned about their communities as a 
result and indicated they had a stronger sense of their 
civic responsibilities, especially as voters. 36 

Thorsen and Friedland assumed correctly that not all 

their findings would be positive. While readers responded 

warmly to the projects, there was considerable resistance 

from within the newsrooms they studied. Editors and 

Esther Thorsen and Lewis A. Friedland, Civic Lessons, 
(Philadelphia: Pew Center for Civic Journalism, 1996), 1. 

36 Ibid. 


reporters feared civic journalism was taking the power out of 
their hands and depositing it in the hands of readers. 

According to Thorsen and Friedland, the success of the 
four civic journalism projects they studied was due to the 
focus on local issues, issues important to local readers and 
viewers. "All of the projects, in very different ways, 
listened to citizen concerns, took them seriously, and then 
invested the time, money, and experience necessary to engage 
in a type of sustained enterprise reporting that is becoming 
increasingly rare in American journalism." 37 It may or may 
not be significant that the study was commissioned and paid 
for by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, but that fact 
should be noted. 

Another research study commissioned by the Pew 
Center reached less positive conclusions about civic 
journalism. Does Public Journalism Work? The Campaign 
Central Experience, a study released by the Pew Center for 
Civic Journalism and The Record newspaper of Hackensack, 
New Jersey, examined the role of civic journalism in the 


1996 race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Bill 
Bradley. 38 

The Record had been an advocate of public journalism 
since 1992, expanding its coverage of political issues, as 
opposed to horse-race coverage, beginning with the 1992 
presidential contest. More polling had been conducted on 
public opinions on issues and values. More news columns and 
editorials had been devoted to reader opinions and ideas. 
The Record continued, and even expanded, its public 
journalism approach for the 1996 races. 

Blomquist and Zukin chose the "Campaign Central" project 

because it 

presented a unique opportunity to assess the impact of 
public journalism. Because New Jersey does not have a 
single dominant statewide newspaper, it was readily 
possible to construct a statewide sample of adults who 
experienced the same campaigns for president and U.S. 
Senate but saw different daily newspapers. This allowed 
us to address an issue that challenged other 
researchers: the absence of a meaningful control group. 39 

Blomquist and Zukin reported editors who attended focus 

groups organized to determine the effectiveness of their 

David Blomquist and Cliff Zukin, Does Public Journalism 
Work? The Campaign Central Experience, 1997. Available at 
the web site of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, 
http: //www. Dew center.ora/doinaci /research /.r_does. html . 

39 Ibid. 


public journalism left the meetings "stunned and somewhat 

shaken." Most respondents remembered little of the public 

journalism section in The Record. Most .Record readers in the 

focus groups did not even remember the public journalism 

section when it was passed around the room. It was the 

candidates' television commercials that most respondents 


The researchers concluded: 

Record readers were no more interested in the election 
or knowledgeable about the candidates and the issues 
than readers of other New Jersey newspapers. They had 
about the same level of trust in politics as other 
newspaper readers, and were not significantly more 
likely to vote or to talk about the election with people 
outside their family, once demographic differences were 
controlled. Their opinions of The Record and its 
political coverage were roughly comparable to the 
opinions of other New Jersey readers about their local 
newspaper. 40 

Blomquist and Zukin also concluded that journalists are 

limited in their ability to dictate how, or if, citizens can 

be reconnected to their political systems. 

As part of their study, Blomquist and Zukin took a 

closer view of the public journalism project in Charlotte, 

North Carolina, which is outlined elsewhere in this 

dissertation. They found that, despite a more optimistic 



report by the Charlotte Observer, only one in four readers 
noticed anything different about the Observer's political 
coverage after the newspaper had shifted to public journalism 
techniques. The project involving the Observer was part of a 
larger, statewide, project involving fifteen newspapers and 
television stations throughout North Carolina. Blomquist and 
Zukin reported that only one in four North Carolina voters 
were even aware of the project. 

James R. Bowers, Blair Claflin, and Gary Walker, in a 
paper prepared for the 1998 Annual Meeting of the New England 
Political Science Association, reported on the effects of a 
five-year civic journalism project in Rochester, New York. 
Bowers and his co-authors studied the work done by 
Rochester' s daily newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle; 
Rochester' s public television and radio outlet, WXXI; and 
commercial television station WOKR-TV. WOKR-TV did not join 
the effort until 1996. " The five-year undertaking involved 

1 James R. Bowers, Blair Claflin and Gary walker, The Impact 
of Civic Journalism On Voting Behavior in State-Wide 
Referendums: A Case Study From Rochester, New York (Paper 
prepared for presentation at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the 
New England Political Science Association. Available at the 
web site of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, 
http : //www. pewcenter . org/doingcj . research/r does . html 


the Rochester Mayor' s race in 1993 and the 1995 election for 
Monroe County Executive. 

The partners in the civic journalism project made a 
decision to move beyond campaign coverage when the Pew Center 
for Civic Journalism awarded them $35,000 to put together a 
series on the condition of the educational system in 
Rochester. The first project involving all three of the 
partners was the "Make Us Safe" project in 1996. Make Us 
Safe was aimed at curbing youth violence in Rochester. 42 

The first issue faced by partners in the Rochester project 
was that the New York State Constitution requires a 
referendum be held every twenty years to ask voters whether 
the state should hold a new constitutional convention. 
"Nineteen Ninety-seven was such a year." 43 The partners 
attempted to recruit other news organizations in other parts 
of the state to participate but were, for the most part, 
unsuccessful. Bowers and the other researchers wrote that 
the failure to expand the constitutional convention civic 
journalism campaign provided an opportunity to determine if 

42 Ibid. 

43 Ibid. 


the campaign would bring out voters in larger numbers than in 
areas where there had been no such campaign. 

Bowers, Claflin, and Walker discovered that was exactly 
what had happened. Approximately 80 percent of the voters 
came to the polls in the six-county Rochester area, only 71 
percent in the remainder of the upstate area, and only 36 
percent in New York City. The previous attempts at civic 
journalism campaigns had not been nearly as successful. 
Bowers and the others concluded that on issues, such as the 
constitutional convention question, "where there are no 
traditional cues and determinants of political behavior at 
work," civic journalism is more likely to have an impact. On 
issues involving more traditional political conflict, such as 
general elections, there is not as likely to be a major civic 
journalism influence. "Additionally," said Bowers and 
associates, "it is important to emphasize that even if there 
were no assessment issues surrounding its impact, the 
practice of civic journalism cannot be expected in only a few 
years to turn around the decline in public life that has 
taken a generation to accomplish." 44 

44 Ibid. 


Editorial page involvement in public journalism projects 
and efforts was examined in the 1998 Ph.D. dissertation of 
Camille Renee Kraeplin at the University of Texas at Austin. 
In The Role of the Editorial Page in Newspaper-Based Public 
Journalism, Kraeplin reported on the results of a mail survey 
distributed to members of the National Conference of 
Editorial Writers. The respondents were asked questions 
designed to determine to what extent their knowledge of and 
involvement in public journalism influenced their attitudes 
toward the movement. They were asked how much they knew 
about public journalism, if they agreed with the movement' s 
basic concepts, if their editorial departments had 
participated in public journalism projects, what those 
projects involved, and how successful the projects had been. 45 

Kraeplin' s data showed that most of the respondents were 
supporters of public journalism, even though most of them 
were skeptical of the movement. The respondents also 
believed that the priorities of public journalism 
corresponded with the priorities of their own editorial 

Kraeplin, Camille Renee, "The Role of the Editorial Page in 
Newspaper-Based Public Journalism" (Ph.D. diss., University 
of Texas at Austin, 1998) . 


departments, but they were concerned that pursuing those 
priorities might compromise newsroom objectivity. 

Kraeplin concluded that the most significant obstacle on 
the road to acceptance of public journalism by members of the 
working press might be misperceptions about public journalism 
philosophy. Kraeplin also reported she had found support for 
a more active editorial presence in public journalism 
projects. Opposition could be reduced, wrote Kraeplin, by 
giving the editorial department primary control over public 
journalism efforts within the newsroom. Such a move, 
suggested Kraeplin, would allay the fears of those in the 
newsroom who feared losing the proper reportorial distance 
from the subjects of their reports while, at the same time, 
lessen the fears of editorial writers who feel public 
journalism projects are an intrusion into an area that is 
normally reserved for the editorial department. 

John R. Bender and Charlyne Berens have also attempted 
to determine who within the ranks of journalists is most 
likely to support public journalism. Bender and Berens 
asked, "What leads some journalists to embrace and others to 
abhor public journalism?" Specifically, these researchers, 
in a survey sent to 268 weekly and daily newspapers, were 
trying to determine if characteristics such as age, 


education, and market size affect acceptance of public 

journalism. 46 

Bender and Berens reported, "For the most part, the 

respondents took positions consistent with the principles and 

goals of public journalism," showing overwhelming support for 

the newspapers that try to make a difference in their 

communities, and try to involve citizens in public debate in 

an effort to improve a community's public life. The research 

showed that journalists who start at weeklies are more likely 

to agree w.ith the precepts of public journalism than those 

who start at dailies. Older journalists displayed no more 

resistance to the tenets of public journalism than younger 

journalists. Editors were less receptive to public 

journalism than were executives and reporters. Bender and 

Berens wrote: 

If the majority or even a strong plurality of 
journalists agrees with the tenets of public journalism 
as we operationalize them in this study, what are we 
arguing about? Perhaps the problem is not so much one 
of differing ideologies as of simple misunderstanding. 
Perhaps we are not so much working at cross-purposes as 
simply speaking in different dialects. 47 

James R. Bender and Charlyne Berens, "Public Journalism's 
Incubator: Identifying Preconditions for Support," presented 
at Public Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference at the 
University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 

47 Ibid. 


In a 1998 master' s thesis at the University of Western 
Ontario, Delaney Lyle Turner compared the penny press and 
public journalism. From Classes to Masses: A Comparative 
Study of the Penny Press and Public Journalism was a work 
involving literature review and telephone interviews in which 
Turner researched the origins, as well as the goals, of both 
periods of journalism. Political, social, economic, and 
technological factors of both the penny press and public 
journalism were examined with an eye toward comparison. 
Delaney' s stated intent was to show there are direct 
parallels between the penny press and public journalism, the 
most important parallel being in the journalist' s 
responsibility to democracy. He concluded his research 
confirmed the parallels, particularly in the aforementioned 
commitment to democracy. 48 

University of South Carolina Ph.D. student Rebecca A. 
Payne contended that public journalism has evolved enough to 
be considered in a second stage of development. No longer 
are public journalists involved solely in generating 
reporting projects that can be called "public journalism." 

Delaney Lyle Turner, "From Classes to Masses: A Comparative 
Study of the Penny Press and Public Journalism" (Master' s 
Thesis, University of Western Ontario, 1998). 


They are now attempting to improve daily journalism and 
originating projects that are intended to do what public 
journalism was supposed to do all along: improve citizen 
participation in public life. 

Payne' s dissertation is a case study of the public 
journalism efforts of the Columbia, South Carolina, State 
newspaper to improve its connection with its readers. 
"Project Reconnect," another venture sponsored by the Pew 
Center for Civic Journalism, asked readers how daily news 
coverage could be improved. The readers targeted were those 
who reported that religion affected their daily decisions. 
The Knight-Ridder Corporation also provided funding for 
Project Reconnect. Knight-Ridder is the State's parent 
company . 

Payne utilized a reader focus group as well as data 
collected by the State and a questionnaire filled out by 
State reporters and editors to determine their opinions of 
Project Reconnect and public journalism. There was also an 
analysis of contents of the State to determine if the paper 
was practicing public journalism. 

Payne concluded that public journalism done poorly could 
harm, not heal, newspaper relationships with readers; that 
reporter involvement and clearly defined goals and a method 


for measuring the results of public journalism projects are 
critical to the success of second-stage public journalism; 
and, concluded Payne, public journalists must avoid even the 
appearance of pandering to their readers. 4 

Susan Willey acknowledged the similar aims of the 
Hutchins Commission and public journalists in a series of 
case studies of public journalism projects. Willey wrote: 
"Civic, or public journalists at some newspapers are 
attempting to bridge [ the] journalist-citizen communication 
gap by using a variety of creative methods to systematically 
listen to citizens — to talk with rather than talk at the 
people. 50 Willey examined the work of four newspapers. All 
four papers made an effort to give readers more of a voice in 
determining how news was covered. 

It was Willey' s conclusion that journalists' efforts to 
listen to their readers serve as a catalyst for both 

Rebecca A. Payne, "Connecting in Columbia, South Carolina: 
A Case Study in Public Journalism" (Ph.D. diss., University 
of South Carolina, 1998). Several of the works cited in this 
section were presented at this same conference. This was one 
of the few sources of works by academics on community 
journalism. Most writing on the subject is partisan opinion, 
some of which is included later in this chapter. 

Susan Willey, "Civic Journalism in Practice: Case Studies 
in the Art of Listening," Newspaper Research Journal, 19 
(Winter 1998) : 16. 


knowledge and discussion and that journalists are finding 
ways to use reader input in the news reporting process. "In 
effect, these journalists seem to be creating new paradigms 
for newsgathering, using a citizen-based informational 
foundation." 51 

In 1996, James Robert Compton, in a think piece, 
reported on the theoretical foundations for public 
journalism, examining the communicative theories of American 
pragmatist John Dewey and German thinker Jurgen Habermas. 
Compton wrote that public journalism is an attempt to put 
Habermas' s vision of discursive politics into practice. 
However, asserted Compton, "the proponents of public 
journalism fail to provide a critique of public life that is 
informed by the historical, political and economic context of 
the media industry." What Compton seemed to be saying is 
that public journalists fail to consider real-world 
conditions within the media and society as they attempt to 
bring the public back into public life. 52 

Tanni Haas has also examined the influence of Habermas 
and others who have taken similar approaches to public 

51 Ibid. 

' 2 James Robert Compton, "Communicative Politics and Public 
Journalism" (Master' s thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1996) . 


discourse. Haas noted in 1996: "Little attention has been 
focused on the kind of publicness [ a word used frequently by 
community journalists] that the news media ought to further." 
The choice, according to Haas, using the works of Habermas 
and Harvard political theory professor, Seyla Benhabib, in 
particular as reference, is between public journalism and a 
journalism of publics. 53 Public journalism considers 
individual members of society to be part of the whole; 
society is considered to have come first. Therefore, the 
interests of the individual are secondary to that of society. 
A journalism of publics, on the other hand, considers 
individuals primary, with society developing from those 
individuals or groups of individuals. In approaching 
journalism, a journalism of publics allows investigators, or 
reporters, to explore the underlying values of individuals' 

See Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the 
Public Sphere (Cambridge: MIT Press,) 1990; Justification and 
Application (Cambridge,: MIT Press,) 1993; Moral 
Consciousness and Communicative Action (Cambridge: MIT 
Press), 1990; and Seyla Benhabib, "Afterword: Communicative 
Ethics and Contemporary Controversies in Practical 
Philosophy," in S. Benhabib and F. Dallmayr (eds.), The 
Communicative Ethics Controversy (Cambridge: MIT Press,) 330- 
369; Selya Benhabib, Situating the Self (New York: 
Routledge) , 1992. 


It was Haas' s conclusion that the argument over what the 
press is supposed to do, as waged several decades ago by 
Dewey and Lippmann, is continuing and is resulting in a 
"crisis of civic communication." Civic journalism is faced 
with its own argument: public journalism or a journalism of 
publics. 54 

In a think piece drawing on theories of philosophy, 
David K. Perry viewed the civic journalism debate as a 
conversation between nominalists and realists. 55 There are 
elements of both in the civic journalism movement. It is 
possible, wrote Perry, for civic journalism to adopt either a 
purely nominalist approach or a purely realist approach. It 
is also possible to adopt a combination of the two, which 
Perry said is more realistic. In approaching the practice of 
civic journalism, its practitioners should, according to 
Perry, adopt not only the "I" of nominalism, but also the 
"me" of realism. In this way, civic journalists can be both 

Tanni Haas, Towards a Democratically Viable Conception of 
Publicness: The Case of Public Journalism," presented at 
Public Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference at the 
University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 

55 Nominalists theorize that universals exist only in the 
mind. Realists theorize that universals exists independent 
of thought or perception. 


commentators on and participants in the society they write 

about . 

One duty of journalists to be considered is the duty to 
the broader world at large, as opposed to the specific 
community in which the journalist operates. Wrote Perry: 

[ C] ivic journalists perhaps should emphasize the welfare 
of the entire human race, as well as that of their 
local community. . . . This would seem to fall closer to 
the midpoint of the hypothesized nominalism-realism 
scale than does one that considers the interests of only 
a specified community or of only the entire human 
race." 56 

In Local Television News and Viewer Empowerment: TV 

Journlism' s Role in Empowering an Informed and Active Public, 

Denise Barkis Richter advanced her theory that it is newsroom 

attitudes that hamstring the public journalism effort. 

Richter conducted a content analysis of 194 local television 

news stories and found that only four of them contained 

"empowering information." She defined empowering information 

as information that not only allows viewers to take steps to 

correct an undesirable situation, but also gives them 

56 David K. Perry, "Civic Journalism, Nominalism and Realism,' 
presented at Public Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference 
at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 


information, such as phone numbers and addresses, needed to 
reach those who are in position to bring about changes. 

Richter conducted in-depth interviews with fifteen local 
television news workers (reporters, writers, and producers) 
and found there were three primary reasons empowering 
information was left out of local newscasts: (1) Employers 
showed no commitment to including such information in news 
stories. (2) News workers themselves showed no enterprise in 
gathering and disseminating such information, relying instead 
on "spot news" stories. (3) News workers perceived that 
viewers did not want such information, that viewers were more 
interested in human-interest stories than in stories of wider 
importance. 58 

Richter recommended that television stations devote the 
same resources to developing empowering information as is now 
devoted to such viewer attractive features as the weather 
report, that television stations "adopt empowering 
information as their overarching philosophy," that reporters 

51 Denise Barkis Richter, "Local Television News and Viewer 
Empowerment: TV Journalism's Role in Empowering an Informed 
and Active Public," presented at Public Journalism: A 
Critical Forum, conference at the University of South 
Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 

58 Ibid. 


be given the time and resources to develop stories involving 
empowering information, and that television stations stop 
underestimating the needs of their viewers. Without these 
steps, warned, Richards, "Television news will not live up to 
its full potential." 59 

Scott Maier used content analysis to study public 
journalism on television in eighteen U.S. markets during the 
1996 elections. Maier asked: "In short, did television 
broadcasters pledged to public journalism deliver their 
promised reform?" Maier also compared his results to those 
of a previous study of public journalism at newspapers in 
twenty markets during the same election season. Deborah 
Potter of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, 
conducted that study. Researchers at the University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill assisted Potter. 60 

Maier* s reported results indicated that broadcasters were 
not as intent on providing public journalism as were the 
newspaper journalists studied by Potter. There was a slight 

" Ibid. 

60 Scott Maier and Deborah Potter, "Public Journalism Through 
the Television Lens: How Did The Broadcast Media Perform in 
Campaign '96?," presented at Public Journalism: A Critical 
Forum, conference at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 
October 1998. 


difference in coverage provided by the television public 
journalists when they were compared with nonpublic journalism 
television reporters, but it was statistically insignificant. 
Conversely, the public journalism newspapers in Potter' s 
study had shown a substantial difference in content. Baier 
noted the results of his study demonstrate the strong 
resistance to public journalism in television newsrooms and 
an apparent difficulty in adapting television to public 
journalism because of the dependence on high-impact visuals 
and quick sound bites. 

Two groups of young people, a group of high school 
students and a group of undergraduate journalism students, 
were studied by Eleanor M. Novek to determine the attitudes 
of young news student/consumers and their reactions to civic 
journalism. Using a survey administered to both groups, 
Novek attempted to determine what the expectations of 
students were and how to employ civic journalism in 
delivering the news product young people want. 

62 Eleanor M. Novek, "In the Public Interest? --NOT !" Young 
People Assess the Social Responsibility of the Press in Civic 
Journalism," presented at Public Journalism: A Critical 
Forum, conference at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 
October 1998. 


Novek found the high school students less accepting of 
the examples of civic journalism they were shown than were 
the college journalism students. The high school students, 
"evaluated civic journalism and its claims of social 
accountability and found them wanting." The high schoolers 
believed that the news coverage they were shown was "driven 
by economic concerns." The college students believed what 
they were shown demonstrated journalists' attempts to be more 
socially responsible. 63 

Novek concluded that young people are, contrary to some ■ 
reports, ready to participate in a more engaged relationship 
with the media, as long as the media conduct themselves in a 
socially responsive manner. Novek expressed an expectation 
that young audiences will demand ethical, socially 
responsible news coverage that encourages democratic 
participation and, in so doing, "will be able to make their 
voices heard in the public sphere." 64 

Working with the School of Communication at Webster 
University, Don Corrigan conducted a mail survey of newspaper 
editors and journalism professors in late 1996. Corrigan was 


trying to determine what constitutes a public journalism 
project. Six projects were outlined for the respondents, who 
were asked if each project was a genuine public journalism 
effort and whether they supported such projects. 

With the exception of only one project, Corrigan found 
little agreement on what the term "public journalism" means. 
Only projects getting voters involved in discussions of the 
issues in political races were thought to be true public 
journalism projects by the respondents. The program used as 
an example by Corrigan was the "Voice of the Voter" campaign 
a 1994 San Francisco Chronicle, KRON-TV and KQED-FM 

Corrigan concluded that the differences of opinion over 
what a public journalism project is has led to the so-called 
"definition problem" of public journalism. That, in turn, 
allows critics of public journalism to "fire at will," 
defining what form the target will take. In addition, wrote 
Corrigan, public journalists are working without a blueprint, 
inventing the phenomenon as they go; if they don' t soon 
address the definition problem, public journalism will have 
no future. 65 

Don Corrigan. "Racial Pledges, Gang Summits, Election 
Forums— What Actually Makes a Public Journalism Project?' 
St. Louis Journalism Review 27 (March 1997) : 1. 


James Englehardt, a graduate student at the University 
of Oregon' s School of Journalism and Communication, presented 
a think piece based on the writings of community journalism 
advocates and critics at the University of South Carolina 
Community Journalism Forum. Englehardt refuted the accepted 
ideas of both the public journalists and the critics of 
public journalism. Both, he has said, are off-target. 
Englehardt noted in 1998, as did Haas, mentioned above, that 
the public journalism debate is a renewal of the 
Dewey/Lippmann debate. Perhaps the greatest weakness of 
public journalism, according to Englehardt, is that "it 
remains ill-defined," with no consensus even on whether it 
should be called public journalism, civic journalism, 
communitarian journalism, or one of the other names assigned 
to it at various times by various practitioners. The public 
journalists, wrote Englehardt, make some false assumptions, 
the foremost being that journalism is suffering because of a 
loss of public trust in public life. Public journalism 
critics also make false assumptions, he said, the foremost 
being that public journalism sounds the death-knell for 
objectivity. 66 

James Englehardt, "Public Journalism, Objectivity and 
Public Life," presented at Public Journalism: A Critical 


Englehardt concluded that public journalists cannot 

escape the problem of lacking a true definition of what 

public journalism is by simply claiming that experiments 

cannot be defined. Conversely, it is unfair for critics of 

public journalism to "expect a concise definition of public 

journalism." One way to solve the problem, according to 

Englehardt, is for public journalists to hold the kind of 

forums they encourage the public to engage in, only the 

conversation would not concern government and public life; it 

would revolve around a definition for public journalism. 

Wrote Englehardt, "These are deeper issues that journalists 

need to confront before throwing more time and money into the 

practical implementations of public journalism." 67 

Bevond a Proper Lite rature Review: 
Partisan Viewpoints 

The works cited above in the community journalism 

literature review are all scholarly attempts to define, 

analyze, and explain community journalism. The authors of 

those works must inevitably refer to the partisans in the 

community journalism debate. Therefore, at least a sampling 

Forum, conference at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 
October 1998. 

67 Ibid. 


of the works of those partisans is necessary to this section. 
What follows is a sampling of the writings of not only the 
proponents of community journalism but also the writings of 
those who see community journalism as a threat, or at least a 
nuisance, for journalism. 

Ed Lambeth, Philip Meyer, and Esther Thorsen' s Assessing 
Public Journalism is an attempt to analyze several aspects of 
public journalism. 68 Most of the chapters, written by public 
journalism scholars, are pro-public journalism. Lambeth, 
Meyer, and Thorsen have all written chapters. Jennie Buckner 
of the Charlotte Observer has contributed her views of public 
journalism in the 1996 elections. Her pro-public journalism 
view is refuted by editor/owner of the Ames (Iowa) Tribune, 
Michael Gartner. Gartner, onetime head of NBC News, is a 
strong critic of public journalism. Davis Merritt and Jay 
Rosen have co-written a chapter. Merritt, who, through the 
year 2000, was spending most of his time promoting public 
journalism and was no longer concerned with day-to-day 
operations of the Wichita Eagle, and Rosen, a professor from 
New York University, were the two most enthusiastic 
supporters of "public journalism." Rick Thames, who had 

Where possible, without causing confusion, the author uses 
the terms used by the practitioners. 

5 m 

assumed Merritt' s old job of editor at the Wichita Eagle, 
discussed the effects of public journalism on the 1992 
elections. There are also chapters on how to make advocates 
out of public journalism doubters and on the changes in daily 
news coverage public journalism brings to a newsroom. 69 

The community journalism "evangelist" from the 
journalism side of the discussion is Davis Merritt. In 
Public Journalism and Public Life, Merritt explained why he 
felt a change was needed in the way journalists do their 
jobs. Journalists had become too removed from the society 
they cover, according to Merritt. The old standard of 
objectivity was no longer useful. The traditional 
journalist, said Merritt, attempts to stay uninvolved in the 
stories he or she covers. The public journalist tries to get 
as involved as possible. Merritt made the point throughout 
that if journalism does not do the job right, and by that he 
meant getting connected with the community, journalists will 
become excess baggage in society, and society will no longer 
need or utilize them. A symbiotic relationship is what is 
called for, in Merritt' s view. Symbiosis is "two dissimilar 

Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer and Esther Thorson, 
Assessing Public Journalism (Columbia: University of Missouri 
Press, 1998) . 


organisms living in a mutually beneficial relationship, each 
bringing something essential to the whole." 70 The "two 
dissimilar organisms" are the press and politicians. When 
this symbiotic relationship cannot be sustained neither can 
democracy. In Merritt' s view, as well as in the view of many 
other public journalists, it is the loss of interest in the 
democratic process that has led to a loss of interest in 
reading newspapers and watching television news. Merritt 
claimed the way to restore a healthy press is to restore a 
healthy democracy. 

The community journalism "evangelist" from academe is 
Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University. 
Rosen and Merritt frequently appear together at public 
journalism conferences, often going their own way for a few 
days or a few weeks at a time, only to meet up again at 
another public journalism conference or forum. They preach 
the same message from different disciplines (one is an 
academic, the other a member of the working press), but in 
similar thoughts and words. 71 In Community Connectedness, 

Davis Merritt, Public Journalism and Public Life (Mahwah, 
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998), 52. 

Mike Hoyt, "Are You Now, or Will You Ever Be, A Civic 
Journalist," Columbia Journalism Review (September /October 
1995): 27-33. 


Rosen told his readers that the job of a free press is to 
enhance democracy. Rosen devoted a part of his article to 
the comments of the late James K. Batten, chief executive of 
Knight Ridder, Inc. A Batten article was also included in 
Connectedness . Batten wrote that it is incumbent upon the 
press to be connected to the society it covers; it is 
incumbent upon society to be an "active, engaged citizenry, 
willing to join in public debate and participate in public 
affairs." 72 In Batten' s opinion, it is the job of the press to 
convince the citizenry that being "active" and "engaged" is 
necessary. If citizens do not feel they are part of a 
community, and many of them do not, said Batten, they feel no 
connectedness; they feel no reason to read about the factors 
affecting the community. That is where public journalism 
must be employed to make citizens care, to make them feel 
connected, and, therefore, to make them want to read about 
their community and see it reflected on the nightly TV 
newscast. Batten wrote that press executives, reporters, and 
editors were coming to agreement that there was a need for 
newspapers to be more involved in their communities. Batten 
summed up his views this way: "You can audit your 

Jay Rosen, Community Connectedness: Passwords for Public 
Journalism, The Poynter Papers: No. 3 (St. Petersburg, FL: 
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, 1993) 3. 


communities, but it needs to be done in sort of a motherly 
fashion. A newspaper should not be afraid to put its arms 
around a community and say, "'I love you.'" 73 

Mixed News: The Public/Civic/Communitarianism Debate, 74 
edited by Jay Black, holder of the Poynter-Jamison chair 
of mass media ethics at the University of South Florida-St. 
Petersburg, is a consideration of community journalism from 
the point of view of several ethicists, as well as from the 
point of view of a trio of journalism's veterans. There are 
both pro and con views in Mixed News, some of them the 
product of presentations made by the book' s contributors at a 
1994 gathering at the University of South Florida's St. 
Petersburg campus; some of them articles submitted for this 
publication. Ralph Barney, a professor of communications at 
Brigham Young University, and John Merrill, professor 
emeritus at the University of Missouri-Columbia journalism 
school, two of journalism' s most respected ethical thinkers, 
have both been critical of community journalism, as have the 
University of Montana' s Deni Elliot and the Freedom Forum' s 

Jay Black (ed.) Mixed News: The Public/Civic/ 
Communitarianism Debate (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum 
Associates, 1997) . 


Paul McMasters. McMasters has offered eight cautions for 
practitioners of public journalism. Among them is the 
warning: "There will be opportunists who hijack it for a joy 
ride, publishers who use it as a marketing tool, editors who 
cite it to justify neglect of more traditional reporting, and 
reporters who go along with it to get ahead." 75 There has 
also been enthusiastic support for community journalism. J. 
Herbert Altschull, professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns 
Hopkins University, told his readers that journalism is going 
through a crisis of conscience. Noting that he had 
previously written of community journalism, but called it 
"participatory journalism," Altschull wrote in 1997 that he 
saw a critical role in community journalism for the 
electronic media. Particularly important in the community 
journalism movement, in Altschull' s view, was talk-radio. 76 

A 1995 joint publication of the Pew Center for Civic 
Journalism and the Poynter Institute limns six of the public 
journalism efforts that are considered seminal. Civic 
Journalism: Six Case Studies, outlines partnerships between 
newspapers, television stations, radio stations and, in one 

Ibid., 191. 
Ibid., 141. 


case, a public relations firm. 77 Among the six cases was the 

partnership in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which WPEG-AM, 

WBAV-FM, WSOC-TV, and the Charlotte Observer combined for a 

project called "Taking Back Our Neighborhoods." 

The ambush killing of two Charlotte police officers had 

inspired "Neighborhoods." It was an attempt to get citizens 

involved in cleaning up crime in their own neighborhoods, an 

effort led by the media organizations. A six-month project 

stretched into two years. The Observer and WSOC-TV won 

awards. Assessments of the effect on crime in Charlotte were 

inconclusive. In Wisconsin, a joint community journalism 

effort, which included a public relations firm, attempted to 

arouse citizen interest in the political process in the 

Madison area. In Tallahassee, Florida, "The Public Agenda" 

was also an attempt to increase community involvement in 

community issues. There were descriptions of similar efforts 

in Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle. Six Case Studies 


Our nation' s civic life is in disrepair and the 
implications for journalism are ominous: Citizens who 
don' t participate in the life of their community have 
little need for news. Civic journalism seeks to address 

Jan Schaffer and Edward D. Miller (eds.) Civic Journalism: 
Six Case Studies Washington, DC: Pew Center for Civic 
Journalism, 1995) . 


some of this detachment and improve journalism in a way 
that may help stimulate civic discourse. 78 

Social Responsibility Theory 

Many community journalists are either ostensibly or 

genuinely motivated in part by belief in the social 

responsibility of the press. For this reason, Four Theories 

of the Press is a mandatory inclusion in a literature review 

of community journalism. The social responsibility theory is 

one of the four theories explored in Four Theories and the 

Hutchins Commission is referred to several times. Generally, 

social responsibility theory holds that the press has not 

made responsible use of its favored position in United States 

society. Social responsibility theory calls for the press to 

service the political system, safeguard the liberties of the 

individual, and enlighten the public. 79 

Works on Brechner. Davjs. and Renick 

Very little has been written on Joe Brechner; the only 

writing about Norm Davis is contained in cursory mention 

about the work of WJXT-TV. More work has been done on Ralph 

Renick. The Wolfson Archive at the Miami-Dade Public Library 

contains a wealth of material on Renick, much of it primary 

78 Ibid., 1. 


information, but also an appreciable amount of secondary 

Ralph Renick has been the subject of two doctoral 
dissertations. Gerald Flanner/ s 1966 dissertation at Ohio 
University was a study of the content of Renick' s editorials, 
an attempt to go beyond national studies that had counted the 
number of stations doing editorials and local studies that 
had dealt only with specific editorial campaigns. 80 Flannery 
worked with Renick as a news editor from 1958-1961 and was 
familiar with newsroom procedures at WTVJ. He used his 
contacts at the station to gain access to the files of 
editorials for the period involved in his study, 2 September 
1957 through 2 September 1965. Each of 1,735 editorials "was 
read, coded, and recorded in terms of subject matter, use of 
verbal supporting material, type of editorials, visual 
materials used, individual position of the editorialist, and 
effect of the editorial." 81 

Theodore Peterson, "The Social Responsibility Theory of the 
Press," in Four Theories of the Press, ed. Fred S. Siebert 
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956), 74. 

Gerald Vincent Flannery, "Local Television Editorializing: 
A Case Study of the Editorials of Ralph Renick on WTVJ-TV" 
(Ph.D. diss., Ohio University, 1966), 6. 

81 Ibid., 9. 


Flannery found that the majority of Renick editorials 
were offshoots of news stories, that Renick tried to persuade 
his viewers on the issues of the time and that the newscaster 
believed editorials were more effective if delivered by 
someone involved in the news, such as the news anchor. 82 
Flannery used his research to formulate guidelines for 
television editorializing, concluding that the Renick method 
was effective and should be emulated by other broadcasters. 83 

Editorial crusades by television stations, specifically 
WTVJ, was the subject of Paul Ashdown' s 1975 doctoral 
dissertation at Bowling Green State University. 84 Ashdown 
also used content analysis but was interested primarily in 
the editorials that fell into the crusade category. Two 
crusades were identified. During 1966, WTVJ broadcast 
seventy-three editorials, sixty-five of them consecutively, 
decrying the lack of adequate law enforcement in the Miami 
area. 65 The crusade was picked up by Miami newspaper and 

az Ibid. , 75-77. 

83 Ibid. , 96-99. 

Paul Ashdown, "Television and the Editorial Crusade: A Case 
Study of WTVJ-TV, 1965-1973" (Ph.D. diss., Bowling Green 
State University, 1975) . 


radio outlets and drew national attention. Public officials 
were indicted. Voters decided to change the system of 
selecting the sheriff. 

Another crusade centered on restaurant cleanliness in 
the Miami area. 86 The 1973 restaurant editorials resulted in 
passage of an ordinance to give government additional power 
to enforce sanitation laws in Miami restaurants. The 
restaurant editorials may not appear at first to fit the 
pattern of editorializing on important social issues but are, 
nonetheless, useful because they illustrate the communitarian 
approach of the three broadcasters around which the present 
study revolves. Although the issue of restaurant cleanliness 
was a consumer issue, there were still elements of putting 
the interest of the community first even at the risk of 
economic well being and personal safety. 

S.L. Alexander* s 1992 article in Mass Comm Review is 
more biographical than analytical. "May the Good News Be 
Yours: Ralph Renick and Florida's First News" is a 
combination of source and popular biography. 87 Alexander is 

S.L. Alexander, "May the Good News Be Yours: Ralph Renick 
and Florida' s First News" Mass Comm Review 19, 1-2 (Winter- 
Spring 1992) : 57-63. 


clearly from the "great man" school of history, presenting 
Renick as a pioneer in South Florida television, subject to 
occasional criticism he did not deserve. Alexander describes 
Renick' s career from the night he anchored his first newscast 
on WTVJ in July 1950 to his death in July 1991. In the 
intervening years he had become, in Nightline anchor Ted 
Koppel' s words, quoted in the Alexander article, "a national 
institution in a local television market." 

There is also much material on Renick and WTVJ to be 
found in newspapers such as the Miami Herald, the Miami News, 
the Fort Lauderdale News, the Miami Beach Daily Sun Reporter 
and others. Renick was a popular topic for Miami' s print 
media and articles regarding his editorials appeared 

Richard Martin mentions Norm Davis briefly in two works. 
Martin was the Jacksonville Times-Union reporter assigned to 
cover efforts to consolidate city and county government in 
the Jacksonville area. 88 In The City Makers, Martin said he 
not only worked for the newspaper, but also had been "brought 
in" by the Consolidation Study Commission to promote 

Richard A. Martin, The City Makers (Jacksonville: 
Convention Press, Inc. 1972). Richard A. Martin, 
Consolidation: Jacksonville, Duval County (Jacksonville: 
Convention Press, Inc., 1968). 


consolidation. The retired reporter and Jacksonville 
historian gave himself much of the credit for the 
consolidation success, but did complement WJXT-TV s efforts 
in the consolidation movement. 

Although there was frequent mention of Joe Brechner in 
Orlando newspapers during the 1960s, only two researchers 
have included him in their work. Kathy Amick Fuqua-Cardwell 
wrote briefly of Brechner in her 1992 master 7 s thesis at 
Rollins College. 89 Fuqua-Cardwell looked at questions asked 
by Plato: What is Justice? What kind of state would be most 
just? As she considered Socrates' conclusion that justice 
involves balancing three elements of being: the rational, the 
spirited and the appetite, Fuqua-Cardwell examined Central 
Florida, as a representative of American society, through 
this lens. It is the inclusion of everyone at the table, as 
Octavio Paz has noted, that constitutes justice. That was 
something that was not being done in Central Florida, 
according to Fuqua-Cardwell. She illustrated her point with 
an outline of racial history in the state, beginning in the 
1920s and continuing through 1970. 

Kathy Amick Fuqua-Cardwell, "Racial Justice: Orange County 
1920-1970" (Master' s thesis, Rollins College, Winter Park, 
FL, 1992) . 


The tumultuous sixties are a major part of Fuqua- 
Cardwell' s thesis. The fight for civil rights is the focal 
point and the part played by Joe Brechner and others who were 
active in Orlando' s Civil Rights Movement is explored. 
Fuqua-Cardwell concluded that Brechner was particularly 
successful in "making the invisible visible" at a time when 
the publisher of the Orlando Sentinel had, according to one 
reporter, told his staff that civil rights was a taboo 
subject because "[ I] f an incident was not reported, it didn' t 
happen." 90 Although Sentinel publisher Martin Anderson kept a 
lid on civil rights news, Fuqua-Cardwell wrote that Brechner 
used his television station for a full discussion of the 

A Linda Perry article in the 1997 compilation of 
research on television history, Television in America, 
examined Brechner' s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement 
in Orlando and traced the history of WFTV through 1969. This 
article by the assistant professor of communications at 
Purdue University was the inspiration for the Brechner 
segment of the present work. "A TV Pioneer' s Crusade for 
Civil Rights in the Segregated South" is a broad look at 


WFTV-TV and Joe Brechner' s stewardship of the station. 91 
Perry called Brechner and WFTV-TV "a voice in the wilderness" 
in 1960s Orlando and "a safety valve for a simmering 
conflict." When Brechner was removed from active management 
of WFTV" in a legal battle with the Federal Communications 
Commission, concluded Perry, "a voice of reason over the 
airwaves was silenced." 92 The present study attempts to 
narrow the focus, to analyze the themes and strategies in the 
editorials, and to determine if Joe Brechner' s editorials 
contributed to the less turbulent racial atmosphere in 
Orlando compared to other cities of the South. 

Although there is a great deal of literature on 
community journalism, most of it is opinion by either the 
practitioners of this kind of journalism or their critics. 
There is some academic work on the subject, however. Most of 
that academic work centers on newspapers or the philosophical 
underpinnings of the movement. Several of the citations in 

Linda Perry, "A TV Pioneer' s Crusade for Civil Rights in 
the Segregated South: WFTV, Orlando, Florida," in Television 
in America: Local Station History from Across the Nation, 
eds. Michael D. Murray and Donald G, Godfrey (Ames: Iowa 
State University Press, 1997) . 

92 Ibid., 154. 


this section are works first presented at a 1998 community 
journalism conference at the University of South Carolina. 

There is little secondary source material on Joe 
Brechner, although Kathy Amick Fuqua -Car dwell briefly 
mentions him in her 1992 master 7 s thesis. He is also the 
subject of a chapter in a 1997 history of broadcasting in 
America. There is even less on Norm Davis, who was mentioned 
only occasionally in articles on WJXT-TV. There is more on 
Ralph Renick, who has been the subject of two doctoral 
dissertations and many articles in magazines, newspapers, and 
books . 




This chapter reviews the work and conclusions of the 
Hutchins Commission, which was financed in the 1940s by Henry 
Luce, chairman of Time, Inc., to look into some of the 
problems that plagued the press of Luce's day. 93 First, the 
origin, structure, and operation of the commission are 
explained. Then the commission' s recommendations are 
inventoried. Finally, reaction from the press, which was the 
subject of the commission' s study, is reviewed. 

Examination of the work of the Hutchins Commission and 
the motivations behind formation of the commission bear 
direct correlation to the efforts of community journalists. 
There are many similarities between complaints that were 
being made against the press of the 1940s and complaints 
against the 1990s press. There are also similarities in the 

M.A. Blanchard, "The Hutchins Commission, the Press and the 
Responsibility Concept," Journalism Monographs (May 1997) • 


7 5 

solutions offered by the Hutchins Commission and solutions 
offered by proponents of community journalism. 

There were complaints that the press was being taken 
over by a few powerful owners, and, as a result, the common 
citizen was being squeezed out, was being denied a voice in 
the great cacophony of voices that was supposed to result in 
the American melody. The complaints were important to Luce 
because of his own concerns about preserving newsgathering 
capabilities of the press, capabilities he thought vital to 
the survival of a free society. 94 There was also the 
perception that the press was concentrating on the 
sensational, on stories and events that would sell papers and 
increase broadcast audiences. 95 These are all problems voiced 
by critics of the press in the year 2000. Community 
journalism appears, in many ways, to echo Hutchins Commission 
recommendations . 

The Commission Ts Formed 
The commission was composed of thirteen members, all 
chosen by University of Chicago president Robert M. Hutchins, 

J.S. Mclntyre, "Repositioning a Landmark: The Hutchins 
Commission and Freedom of the Press," Critical Studies in 
Mass Communication 4 (1987): 136-160. 

95 Blanchard, Hutchins, 26. 

7 6 

most of them respected in the field of advanced education but 
with no direct experience in the press, although several of 
them had experience in dealing with the press. 96 Luce had 
chosen Hutchins because of Hutchins' reputation as a 
thoughtful press critic. Time, Inc., contributed $200,000 in 
financing. Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc. contributed 
$15,000. The money was disbursed through the University of 
Chicago, giving neither Time nor Encyclopaedia Brittanica 
control over or assumed responsibility for the study. 

Commission members heard testimony from fifty-eight men 
and women connected with the press. Robert Hutchins wrote in 
a foreword to the report that "[ b] ecause of the present world 
crisis," commission members had limited their study to "the 
role of the agencies of mass communication in the education 
of the people in public affairs." Staff members conducted 
recorded interviews with more than 225 additional witnesses 
from industry, government, and private agencies concerned 
with the press. Staff and committee members prepared 17 6 
documents for commission members to study. The commission 
held seventeen two-day or three-day meetings. 97 Their 

16 Mclntyre, Repositioning, 138-139. 

The Hutchins Commission, A Free and Responsible Press 
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1947), v-vi. 


conclusions were put together by staff members, then perused 
line-by-line by each member before the report was assembled 
as a 137-page book and released on 26 March 1947. 98 

Chairman Robert Hutchins was an innovator at the 
University of Chicago, where he was president. Hutchins had 
a reputation for being critical of the press. He had 
chastised the press for not meeting society' s needs and had 
done it from the podium at a gathering of the American 
Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). 99 

Others on the commission included Zechariah Chafee, Jr., 
of Harvard, the leading scholar of the time on the free 
speech provision of the First Amendment and the author of 
Free Speech in the United States. John Clark had dealt with 
the press in his several jobs in the Roosevelt 
administration, including the position of consultant to the 
National Recovery Administration and had also written the 
final analysis on the NRA. Harold Laswell was director of 
war communications research for the Library of Congress. 
Several years later Laswell wrote the definition of 

Blanchard, Hutchins, 24; Commission on Freedom of the 
Press, A Free and Responsible Press: A General Report on Mass 
Communication: Newspapers, Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines, 
and Books (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 1947) . 

99 Blanchard, Hutchins, 12. 


communication that has had such staying power: "Who says what 
in which channel to whom with what effect." 100 Poet Archibald 
MacLeish was the Librarian of Congress and felt that the 
press played an important role in the international relations 
of a country. Robert Niebuhr, a professor of ethics at Union 
Theological Seminary, had authored several articles on ethics 
and morality. Beardsley Ruml had worked for government, 
devising the pay-as-you-go income tax system for President 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and had come in frequent contact 
with journalists. He said he liked journalists but had 
realized, "They can do amazing things even to a hand-out, 
unless you sit down with them and go over what you want to 
say paragraph by paragraph." 101 

Luce and Hutchins had considered including members of 
the press on the commission. They discussed inviting 
columnist Walter Lippmann, advertising executive Chester 
Bowles, and Federal Communications Commission Chairman 
Lawrence Fly to participate. They decided, however, that 
putting media representatives on the commission might limit 


the commission' s independence. Those same media 
representatives were later asked to testify. 102 

Press Reaction 
In advance of the commission' s work, there was mixed 
reaction from members of the press to the very fact that such 
a commission had been formed. Some of the press, which in 
the view of the commission included movies, newspapers, 
magazines and radio, claimed to welcome such an undertaking, 
claimed to be eager for suggestions on how to improve, and 
even thought that the commission would be an ally in 
preserving First Amendment press rights. For instance, an 
Editor & Publisher editorial said, "Editor & Publisher 
believes that the vigilance necessary to preserve the First 
Amendment as the keystone of all democratic freedoms" would 
be served by the work of the commission. 103 According to 
Blanchard, other members of the press slipped into paranoia 
in the fear that the work of such a commission could lead to 
press censorship and government control. 104 

102 Mclntyre, Repositioning, 139. 

"Research on Freedom," Editor and Publisher, 4 March 1966 

104 Blanchard, Hutchins, 4. 


Even those who had lauded the idea of the commission in 

the beginning changed their minds once they saw the report or 

heard about it from other members of the press. For 

instance, the Chicago Tribune' s headline read, "A Free Press 

(Hitler Style) Sought for U.S." 105 Frank Hughes, who had 

written the Tribune' s story, in a book published three years 

later attacked not only the report, but individual commission 

members as well, calling Hutchins' philosophies fascist and 

noting that Hutchins had held membership in groups with 

Communist connections. Hughes wrote in his preface: 

Early in the research, I discovered that I would have to 
do what this so-called "commission," created by 
Chancellor Robert M. Hutchins of the University of 
Chicago and numbering some of the most prominent 
professors in the higher learning in its company, did not 
do — search for the truth. The study and research which 
this entailed resulted in a reexamination of modern 
political philosophy, as well as a gathering and 
examination of the facts concerning the American 
newspaper press today, which were available to the 
"Commission on Freedom of the Press," but which it did 
not choose to examine. 106 

On the other hand, a few papers did find merit in the 

report. Philip Graham's Washington Post was among them. 

Graham' s newspaper said several of the commission' s 

5 Frank Hughes, "The Professors and the Press," Chicago 
Tribune, 27 April 1947, 22F. 

Frank Hughes, Prejudice and the Press (New York: The 
Devin-Adair Company, 1950), v. 


recommendations had merit, and its premise that a responsible 

press is necessary to freedom was well founded. The 

Louisville Courier-Journal even said the report had not gone 

far enough. 107 

Members of the media who had expressed fears about what 

A Free and Responsible Press might contain felt they had been 

vindicated when they saw the report. Statements that seemed 

highly critical of the way the press was doing its job only 

exacerbated press paranoia. One example: 

The modern press itself is a new phenomenon. Its 
typical unit is the great agency of mass communication. 
These agencies can facilitate thought and discussion. 
They can stifle it. They can advance the progress of 
civilization or they can thwart it. They can debase and 
vulgarize mankind. They can endanger the peace of the 
world; they can do so accidentally, in a fit of absence 
of mind. They can play up or down the news and its 
significance, foster and feed emotions , create 
complacent fictions and blind spots, misuse the great 
worlds, and uphold empty slogans. Their scope and power 
are increasing every day as new instruments become 
available to them. These instruments can spread lies 
faster and farther than our forefathers dreamed when they 
enshrined the freedom of the press in the First Amendment 
to our Constitution. 108 

That statement is indicative of much of the tone of the 

Hutchins Commission report, yet there are segments of the 

report that indicate a willingness to let the press monitor 

107 Blanchard, Hutchins, 45. 
Hutchins Commission, 3. 


itself. In an observation that appeared to have been taken 

directly from John Stuart Mill, the report said: 

It (society) must guarantee freedom of expression, to 
the end that all adventitious hindrances to the flow of 
ideas shall be removed. Moreover, a significant 
innovation in the realm of ideas is likely to arouse 
resistance. Valuable ideas may be put forth first in 
forms that are crude, indefensible, or even dangerous. 
They need the chance to develop through free criticism 
as well as the chance to survive on the basis of their 
ultimate worth. Hence the man who publishes ideas 
requires special protection. 109 

Nonetheless, the report contained several statements 
that appeared to be thinly veiled threats that government was 
ready to step in to shape up the press. The commission said 
it was preferable for the press to control itself. In other 
words, to follow the commission' s recommendations, but if the 
press wouldn't do it, the job would fall to government. The 
commission report said, "It becomes an imperative question 
whether the performance of the press can any longer be left 
the unregulated initiative of the few who manage it." 110 

Some of the commission' s criticisms sound like they were 
taken from the 1990s. The report said news media were trying 
to attract the maximum audience by letting stories of night- 
club murders, race riots, strike violence, and quarrels among 

109 ... . , 

Ibid., 6. 

110 Ibid., 16. 

8 3 

public officials crowd out the news of many of the activities 
that had a much deeper affect on the majority of U.S. media 
consumers. Newspaper columnists and radio commentators were 
particularly reproachable as they supplied to the public what 
amounted to "keyhole gossip, rumor, character assassination 
and lies." 111 

The commission had an apparent particular dislike for 
the trend toward ownership of more and more media outlets by 
fewer and fewer individuals, saying that not only were there 
economic forces at work, but personal forces. Commission 
members wrote, "These forces are those exaggerated drives for 
power and profit which have tended to restrict competition 
and to promote monopoly through the private enterprise 
system." The real danger, thought commission members, was 
that those individuals were failing to allow opinions that 
disagreed with their own to reach the public. 
Commiss ion Goals 

As it laid out thirteen steps to be taken by government, 
public, and press, the commission expressed the hope that its 
recommendations would lead to the achievement of "five ideal 

112 Ibid., 48. 


demands" or "requirements" that amounted to the commission's 
goals for the press. Those requirements were as follows: 

1. A truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of 
the day' s events in a context which gives them meaning; 

2 . A forum for the exchange of comment and criticism; 

3. The projection of a representative picture of the 
constituent groups in society; 

4. The presentation and clarification of the goals and 
values of the society; 

5. Full access to the day's intelligence. 113 

The thirteen steps in achieving these five goals placed 
equal responsibility on government, press, and public. 
Recommendations to Government 

It was to be the job of government to guide behaviors of 
the press but not to dictate those behaviors. The commission 
recommended the following: 

1. That "constitutional guarantees of freedom of the 
press be recognized as including the radio and motion 
pictures." 114 This would not mean, however, that the FCC 
could not deny a license on the grounds that the applicant 

113 Ibid., 21-29. 

Ibid., 82. 


was unprepared to serve the public interest, convenience, and 
necessity, the commission said. 

2. That the "government facilitate new ventures in the 
communications industry, that it foster the introduction of 
new techniques, that it maintain competition among large 
units through the antitrust laws, but that those laws be used 
sparingly to break up such units and that, where 
concentration is necessary in communications, the government 
endeavor to see to it that the public gets the benefit of 
such concentration." 115 

By that last phrase commission members meant that a 
network, for instance, should strive to take on affiliates 
even in the smallest market, although that market might not 
be large enough to be profitable. The commission stated that 
these measures could be achieved either by the industry 
acting responsibly, or by the government. Commission members 
made it clear that industry action was preferable, but the 
threat of government action was implicit. There is no 
indication why this recommendation was placed in the 
government section, rather than in the press section. 


3. That "as an alternative to existing remedies for 
libel, legislation by which the injured party might obtain a 
retraction or restatement of the facts by the offender or an 
opportunity for the offended to reply." 116 

4. "[ T] he repeal of legislation prohibiting expressions 
in favor of revolutionary changes in U.S. institutions where 
there is no clear and present danger that violence will 
result from the expressions." The commission referred to the 
Alien Registration Act of 1940, the Smith Act, which made it 
a crime to advocate the violent overthrow of the Government 
or to belong to an organization that did. 

5. "[ T] hat the government, through the media of mass 
communication, inform the public of the facts with respect to 
its policies and of the purposes underlying those policies 
and that, to the extent that private agencies of mass 
communication are unable or unwilling to supply such media to 
the government, the government itself may employ media of its 
own." 117 This media use by the government also was to extend 
to disseminating information about the U.S. government in 
other countries. 

Ibid., 86. 


Recommendations to the Press 
The commission expressed the hope that the press would 
take these measures so government would not be forced to act. 
It made five recommendations on self-governing measures to 
the press. 

1. All "agencies of mass communication should accept 
the responsibilities of common carriers of information and 
discussion" and should present ideas other than their own. 118 

2. "Agencies of mass communication should assume the 
responsibility of financing new, experimental activities in 
their fields." 119 The commission said it was talking about 
things of high literary, artistic or intellectual activity, 
although commissioners did not say specifically what sorts of 
activities they had in mind. 

3. The commission recommended "that the members of the 
press engage in vigorous mutual criticism." 120 

4. Commission members recommended "that the press use 
every means that" could "be devised to increase competence, 
independence and effectiveness of its staff." 121 Better pay, 


better contracts, better individual recognition were among 
those means. 

5. Commission members advised "that the radio industry 
take control of its own industry" and treat advertising the 
way "the best newspapers" were treating advertisers. 122 That 
is, broadcasters should not continue to interweave commercial 
messages into their programs. They should clearly separate 
advertising and programming, similar to the way newspapers 
were separating advertising and news content. "The public 
should not be forced to continue to take its radio fare from 
the manufacturers of soap, cosmetics, cigarettes, soft 
drinks, and packaged foods." 123 

Recomm endations to the Public 

The report warned that members of the public had failed 
to realize that a communications revolution had occurred and 
did not appreciate "the tremendous power which the new 
instruments and the new organization place in the hands of a 
few men." Nor had the public come to realize how far the 
performance of the press fell short of the requirements of a 
free society. It was up to the public, said the commission, 

123 Ibid., 95-96. 


to hold the press accountable. There were three 
recommendations for the public. 

1. The commission recommended "that nonprofit 
institutions help supply the variety, quantity and quality of 
press service required by the American people." 124 In other 
words, religious and educational organizations could make 
good documentary movies. It was necessary to do this 
immediately, rather than waiting for the schools to educate 
people going into the media to do it, because the world was 
"on the brink of suicide" and had to be educated without 

2. The commission also recommended "the creation of 
academic-professional centers of advanced study, research and 
publication in the field of communications," giving 
journalism students the broadest of educations. 125 The 
commission' s remarks about journalism education were not 
complimentary; the commission had said journalism schools 
were doing little more than vocational training, and not a 
very good job of that. 126 

126 Ibid., 78. 


3. The commission wanted a "new and independent agency" 
to report annually on the performance of the press. 127 
Citizens' Commission 

The commission again and again came back to the idea of 
a citizens' commission to act as a watchdog on the press. It 
was this idea upon which success of all the other 
recommendations seemed to rest. 128 So much so that Hutchins 
at one point became so weary of hearing the recommendation 
that he said, "Does it at all disturb the commission that we 
seem to come back again and again to one recommendation only? 
Our single remedy for all ills is a continuing non- 
governmental commission; I cannot recall at the moment any 
other recommendation that the commission is prepared to 
make." 129 

Nonetheless, the recommendation was made and at the 
final discussion of organizing a citizens' commission, Chafee 
commented, "If the seed falls on fertile ground it will 

127 Ibid., 100. 

128 Hutchins Report, 100-102. 

Jerilyn S. Mclntyre, "The Hutchins Commission's Search foi 
a Moral Framework," Journalism History 6, 2 (Summer, 1979) • 


commission was reluctant to get involved in starting such a 
group because commission members didn' t want their efforts 
misinterpreted as a desire to take a continuing role in 
watching over the media. 131 "The seed" (the recommendation 
for a citizens' commission) did not fall on fertile ground, 
and many years later when newspaper editors and publishers, 
educators, and public figures were polled on press 
responsibility, there was still a wide gap in attitudes 
toward criticism of the press. 132 Although public figures and 
educators expressed general approval of outside criticism of 
the press, editors and publishers were still generally 
against the idea. 

The report came at an already stressful time for the 
press: ASNE and press association chiefs were working for a 
free press guarantee by the United Nations, and negative 
comments about U.S. media were not expected to help the 
cause; conservative publishers were trying to overturn a 

132 B. Hartung, "Attitudes Toward the Applicability of the 
Hutchins Report on Press Responsibility," Journalism 
Quarterly 58(3) (Fall, 1981): 428-433. 


Supreme Court decision in the Associated Press antitrust 
suit; and college journalism professors were pushing for some 
sort of accreditation system, but the commission's tone led 
some to fear that accreditation might be a step toward 
licensing. 133 

Effects of the Report 

There were sharp criticisms from the press of the 
commission' s work, criticisms that too much money had been 
spent ($215,000), that the work had been done behind closed 
doors, that there were no members of the press on the 
commission, that there had been very little in the way of 
systematic research, and that there were some factual errors 
in the report. 

Nonetheless, publication of A Free and Responsible Press 
was followed in the next few years by several attempts at 
self-criticism by the press. These attempts were apparently 
direct results of the Hutchins Commission report. 134 The 
American Press Institute was created (actually just before 
the formal report was issued) with a stated goal of the 
improvement of American newspapers. The first issue of 

133 Blanchard, Hutchins, 31. 

134 Ibid., 47. 


Nieman Reports, the nation' s first journalism review, was 
published; the National Council of Editorial Writers was 
formed and the Associated Press Managing Editors delivered a 
critique of AP practices. As Margaret Blanchard put it, it 
was "press criticism made respectable." 135 Blanchard 
concluded that A Free and Responsible Press did make a 
difference, that it was the spark that ignited a widespread 
effort at self-criticism and improvement. However, in her 
conclusion she noted that in 1955 Dr. Hutchins appeared 
before ASNE to label efforts by newspapers to improve their 
responsibility nothing more than public relations 
gimmickry. 136 

The problems that brought about formation of the 
Hutchins Commission in the 1940s were similar to concerns 
that were being expressed about the press in the 1990s. 
Therefore, examination of the work of the Hutchins Commission 
and the motivations behind formation of the commission is 
appropriate in examining the efforts of community 
journalists. Not only were the problems of the two time 
periods similar, so were the solutions offered to mitigate 


the problems. Solutions offered by community journalists in 
the 1990s appeared, in many ways, to echo Hutchins Commission 
recommendations . 




The purpose of this chapter is to describe community 
journalism as it was practiced in the 1990s. A secondary 
purpose is to measure it against the recommendations of the 
Hutchins Commission. The chapter will first discuss the 
declared purpose of community journalism and then will 
describe several community journalism projects. 

Toda/ s equivalent, or perhaps the natural result, of 
the Hutchins Commission' s recommendations is community 
journalism, a phenomenon that is fully as threatening to the 
welfare of today' s press as the press of the 1940s thought 
the Hutchins Commission to be. 137 Members of the press saw 
the commission' s report as an attempt to dictate how news was 
to be covered, as another attempt to diminish press 
independence. The Hutchins Commission, however, was what it 

137 The work of the Hutchins Commission is frequently 
mentioned in discussions of community journalism and is 
frequently referred to in many of the citations in the 
current research. 



appeared to be from the outset. It was an attempt, financed 
by an owner of a media outlet, to cure some of the ills that 
had brought public criticism to the press. The present-day 
reincarnation of Hutchins is disguised as a cure for the ills 
of journalism when, in fact, it is something far different. 131 
Rplflsss or Self-Servino? 
Just as was the case with the Hutchins Commission, the 
professed purpose of community journalists is making 
journalism more responsive to the public, improving society 
and public life, doing journalism in a way that promotes 
community rather than individualism. When one examines 
community journalism practices, however, one detects another 
motive, intent to increase newspaper circulation and 
television viewership. Community journalism becomes a Trojan 

Davis Merritt, former editor of the Wichita Eagle and 
one of the champions of community journalism, has called for 
a democracy to have three fundamentals: (1) shared, relevant 
information; (2) a method or place for deliberation about the 
application of that information to public affairs; (3) shared 

138 Paul McMasters, "Merritt and McMasters Debate Public 
Journalism," Journal of Mass Media Ethics 11, 3 (1996), 171- 


values on which to base decisions about that information. 
Merritt claimed that objectivity should not be the watchword 
of journalism, that someone who is objective is too detached 
from what is happening around him to present the kind of 
journalism that an involved, communitarian journalist would 
produce. He called for journalists to be connected to the 
society on which they report, to attempt to do more than just 
find fault. Journalists should, said Merritt, attempt to 
"insure that Americans understand the true choices they have 
about issues so they can see themselves, their hopes, and 
their values again reflected in politics. In turn, this 
would result in a more responsive politics and the recapture 
of credibility by journalism." 140 

Critics of public journalism, such as Freedom Forum 
ombudsman Paul McMasters, have said Merritt' s description 
sounds like nothing more than good, ethical journalism; in 
other words, "old wine in new bottles." 141 McMasters agreed 
with Ralph Barney of Brigham Young University, who said a 
major thrust, perhaps the major thrust of public journalism, 

Ibid., 48. 


appears to be self-serving, i.e., "the recapture of 

credibility by journalism." 142 Responding to those 

criticisms, Merritt told his readers in 1995 that the 

"citizen-consumer" is alienated by tough journalism that does 

not provide solutions as well as facts about what is wrong 

with society. 143 He also gave example heaped upon example of 

what he called community journalism, such as: 

Between the line of total involvement and the line of 
Hearst' s famous "You supply the pictures, I' 11 supply 
the war" is a huge and promising middle ground. Public 
journalism operates in that ground, retaining neutrality 
on specifics and moving far enough beyond detachment to 
care about whether resolution occurs. 144 

Merritt acknowledged that some journalists would hear 

his description of community journalism as a description of 

good conventional journalism. He said he did not care, as 

long as the job is done right. Doing the job "right" is what 

seems to confuse so many of the community journalists. 

Merritt wrote, "What I don' t like about public journalism is 

people who say they are practicing it when they don' t know 

142 Barney, "Community Journalism," 140-151. 

143 Davis Merritt, Jr., and Paul McMasters, "Merritt and 
McMasters Debate Public Journalism," Journal of Mass Media 
Ethics 11, 3 (1996): 171-183. 

Merritt, Public Journalism and Public Life, 116. 


what the hell they are doing and they haven' t taken the first 

philosophic step to understand what it is." 

Although Merritt does not say so, it appears that some 

of the projects financed by the Pew Center for Civic 

Journalism in Washington, DC, would fall into his "don' t know 

what the hell they are talking about" category. Those are 

the projects involving participants who have no apparent 

sense of a communitarian effort but are avowedly interested 

mainly in building circulation or ratings. The projects 

outlined below appear to be a mixture of these elements. 

There is some sincere effort in each one, but each one is 

diminished by bottom-line interests. 

The Community Journalism Project s Sponsored bv the 
Pew Center for Civic Journalism 

The Pew Center for Civic Journalism brings together 

newspapers, broadcast stations, and citizens' groups in an 

attempt to improve life in targeted communities. The primary 

idea is to get people within communities involved in the 

public life of those communities, especially politics. 

People at the Pew Center and other community journalism 

proponents feel that journalism can thrive only if news 

consumers are involved in what is happening in the community 

145 Merritt and McMasters, "Merritt and Masters Debate Public 
Journalism, 174. 


and are, therefore, interested in keeping up with daily 

events. 146 

The first three projects discussed below are Pew Center 
projects. 147 Those are the projects in Charlotte, Madison, 
and Tallahassee. The next two, in Boston and Seattle, 
indirectly involve the Center. The last two, in Columbus and 
New Orleans, are independent public journalism efforts. They 
are not all the same. Charlotte, Madison, Tallahassee, 
Boston, and Seattle are all projects put together with the 
purpose of increasing numbers of viewers and readers. They 
are projects which Paul McMasters has said are generated by 
"publishers and others worried about the bottom line" who are 

146 The Pew Center for Civic Journalism is funded by the Pew 
Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia consortium of seven 
charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by the 
children of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his 
wife, Mary Anderson Pew. Pew Trusts claim assets of $4.7 
billion and annual grant commitments of about $190 million. 
The Pew website describes the Pew mission as, "committed to 
the same fundamental values that guided the founders' lives: 
encouraging individual growth and potential; improving the 
quality of people's lives; maintaining and nurturing our 
democratic traditions; ensuring an educated and engaged 
citizenry; protecting religious freedom; and assisting and 
supporting those in need." Information found at 
http : / /www . pewtrusts . com. 

147 Jan Schaffer and Edward D. Miller (Eds.), Civic 

Journalism: Six Case Studies. Pew Center for Civic Journalism 

and The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Washington, DC, 


using public journalism as a way to "get some good vibes out 
there so that maybe people will start buying the paper 
again." 1 " 8 New Orleans and Columbus are indeed community 
journalism, with no purpose but to improve life in the 
community. However, community journalism critics, such as 
McMasters, have expressed fears that even doing community 
journalism the way its proponents advocate robs journalists 
of their autonomy because the journalists become too involved 
with the people they are supposed to cover. 149 

The projects described below all had the apparent goals 
of communitarianism at their foundation. They all appear to 
be meant to improve public life in some way. Some of the 
projects are meant to increase participation in the political 
process, some are meant to make citizens feel better about 
living in their communities, and some are meant only to 
increase the amount of good or lessen the amount of evil in 
their community. The word, "apparent," is useful at this 
point because, although all are community journalism 
projects, not all are equally unselfish. 

148 Merritt and McMasters, "Debate," 181. 

149 Ibid., 178. 


In some cases, determining what kind of support and how 
much support was granted by the Pew Center is difficult. The 
director of the Center refers questions on specific grants to 
her assistant. The assistant, Associate Director Walter 
Dean, said in May 2000 that the Center does not release 
specific information for civic journalism projects in which 
Pew has been involved. 150 For cases in which the news 
organizations involved are not forthcoming with information, 
it is necessary to extrapolate from general figures the 
amount of aid that may have been provided by Pew for specific 
projects. That is a task that becomes nearly impossible when 
the myriad of projects and figures are thrown into the mix. 

It has been reported that Pew contributed $40 million to 
media projects between 1993 and 1998. 151 Of that $40 million, 
it has also been reported that $6.4 million went specifically 
to civic journalism projects between 1993 and 1996. In 1993, 
the Pew Center for Civic Journalism also gave $600 thousand 
to the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation "to foster 
partnerships between electronic and print media to do civic 

150 Telephone conversation with Walter Dean, 1 May 2000. 

151 Kate Shatzin, "Ways to Shake Up the News Media; 
Innovation,," Baltimore Sun, 8 August 1999, 2A. 


journalism projects." 152 In the same year, NPR received $290 
thousand from Pew for its Voter Project, which involved five 
public radio stations. The stations were charged with 
providing election coverage that "would stimulate citizen 
interest." 153 The project received another $250 thousand from 
Pew in 1996. 154 Also in 1996, the Pew Center provided $575 
thousand for seventeen newspaper/radio/television 
partnerships for community-oriented projects. 1 If divided 
evenly, that would be almost $39 thousand for each project. 
The projects, however, are not all the same in scope or 
duration, and it is likely that some projects get more money 
than others. The Center also sponsors civic journalism 
workshops and awards cash prizes for projects it considers 
outstanding examples of civic journalism. Some of the news 
organizations involved in Pew-backed civic journalism 
projects are not as reluctant to release information as is 
the Pew Center. In the following sections on specific 
projects, figures provided by those involved are included in 

152 Alicia Shepard, "The Pew Connection," American Journalism 
Review, April, 1996, 24. 




footnotes, if those figures were provided. If not, that is 
also mentioned. 

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and 
WSOC-TV teamed up for the "Taking Back Our Neighborhoods/ 
Carolina Crime Solutions" project. The killing of two police 
officers in an ambush sparked the 1993 project. The 
newspaper and the television station spearheaded efforts to 
decrease crime in Charlotte. They conducted polls, held town 
meetings, and, through data analysis, pinpointed the 
neighborhoods in Charlotte most affected by crime. Two local 
radio stations were taken on as partners in the anticrime 
campaign. Community leaders, longtime residents, and other 
members of the community with an interest in cutting crime in 
Charlotte were brought together on a citizens' panel. A 
community coordinator was hired, her salary underwritten by 
the Pew Center. Charlene Price-Patterson, a nonjournalist, 
helped organized neighborhood meetings where citizen opinion 
was gathered. Price-Patterson wrote in the Pew Center" s 
newsletter that she also "arranged child care, refreshments, 
and transportation and spent some time 'knocking on doors to 


publicize the event.'" 156 Telephone numbers for people who 
wanted to volunteer were published in the Observer as part of 
a seven-page spread on the project. There were other multi- 
page stories . WSOC-TV s main anchor moderated a town 
meeting. Several television programs were produced with the 
project as topic. Charlotte' s mayor got involved. The 
project had the desired effect. Media scrutiny brought 
action, such as the clearing of a neighborhood lot where a 
girl had been raped, when complaints from the public had 
proved futile. 157 

In Madison, Wisconsin, a 1991 project involving the 
Wisconsin State Journal, WISC-TV, Wisconsin Public TV, 
Wisconsin Public Radio, and the Wood Communications public 
relations firm began as a way to get citizens involved in the 
1992 presidential primary. The project, called "We The 
People," continued into 2000 and was expanded to involve 
people in town meetings all over the state. 158 The town 

156 Ibid. Several calls were placed in mid-May 2000 to the 
Charlotte Observer. Messages were left requesting 
information on Pew dollar contributions to the "Taking Back 
Our Neighborhoods" project. Calls were not returned. 


Shaffer and Miller, Civic Journalism, 4-11. 

158 This project had no link to the 1940s radio program of the 
same name. The name likeness was apparently coincidental. 


meetings were forums on how public issues are affecting the 
private lives of Wisconsin residents. The "town meetings" 
were held in several locations at once, all visible and 
audible to people at the other meetings via satellite hookup. 
When a political campaign was underway, it was the voters who 
asked the questions, bypassing "formulaic journalism and 
giv[ ing] citizens creative ways to get information and 
interact with each other and with politicians." 159 The town 
hall meetings were conducted in two steps. First, those who 
were to participate met with a facilitator to focus on the 
issues that were to be discussed in phase two, which was when 
the participants questioned the candidates directly. Voters 
were sometimes allowed to act as legislators in mock hearings 
on issues in the state; they were sometimes allowed to write 
mock budgets. Journal Associate Editor Tom Still saw the 
project as "enlightened self-interest." 160 The "enlightened" 

Shaffer and Miller, Civic Journalism, 12. 

160 Ibid., 18. On 18 May 2000, Still had difficulty recalling 
exact figures for Pew contributions. He remembered that Pew 
had made two grants of approximately $20,000 and another for 
$25,000. There had been no grants from Pew for the other 
five years the project had been in existence. The Madison 
project was the longest-lived of the projects mentioned in 
this dissertation. As of mid 2000, it was still in existence 
with a campaign called "Growing Up . . . Growing Older." 


aspect was the part project partners are playing in 
enlightening the public. The "self-interest" part was "by 
getting people in on the ground floor, getting them more 
excited about this kind of process, we think they become 
better, or more regular, newspaper readers." After the 
program' s inception, two more partners joined: CBS affiliate 
WISC-TV and Wisconsin Public Radio. The partners organized 
several civic journalism projects every year. It was 
estimated that hundreds of thousands of people watched 
television broadcasts, listened to radio broadcasts, or read 
newspaper articles about "We the People." 

Tal lahassee 
A similar project, called "The Public Agenda," in 
Tallahassee, Florida, was not as focused as other community 
journalism efforts and, therefore, apparently did not have as 
much impact, but the news organizations involved said "The 
Public Agenda" did generate good story ideas. In that 
project, the Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee' s WCTV-TV, 
Florida State University, and Florida A&M University gathered 
300 citizens together in the chamber of the Florida House of 
Representatives in November 1994. That meeting laid the 

161 Ibid., 18. 


groundwork for dozens of other, smaller meetings of 
Tallahassee residents who wanted a voice in the issues 
affecting their communities. The project used a free 
internet service and had its own World Wide Web page. The 
Public Agenda relied heavily on focus groups to determine 
which issues were important in the eyes of members of the 
community. WCTV-TV General Manager David Olmsted said there 
was a practical side to the project: "It puts your newsroom 
in touch with the issues." 162 WCTV-TV pledged to air town 
hall programs during the project, as well as give "The Public 
Agenda" news coverage. Two Tallahassee Democrat reporters 
were assigned to cover the project and began coverage with a 
four-part, page-one series. Reporters said they were not 
always able to develop stories from the town hall meetings 
that were part of "The Public Agenda," but they did get story 
ideas from those meetings. There was, however, resistance 
from people taking part in the town hall meetings, afraid 
that media coverage would inhibit discussion. 16 - The Democrat 
did not cover the story as thoroughly as its editors 
promised. The project was never completely accepted in the 
newsroom and was never completely integrated into the paper' s 

162 Ibid., 24. 

163 Ibid., 29. 


coverage. Democrat editor Lou Heldman related that the 
project "focused widespread attention on the need for 
involvement, but [ fell] short of our goal of getting 
thousands of citizens committed to ongoing dialogue." 

The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, has 
also become involved in civic journalism efforts, teaming up 
with National Public Radio, with a financial assist from the 
Pew Center. 165 In Boston in 1994, the Boston Globe, WBZ-TV, 
and WBUR-FM joined forces with Poynter to initiate "The 
People' s Voice," a campaign to get people more involved in 

164 Ibid., 29. The project director of this program was Mimi 
Jones. In may 2000, Jones recalled that the Pew Center had 
given "The Public Agenda" a three year grant of $135 

165 The Poynter Institute was created in 1975 by Nelson 
Poynter, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and 
Congressional Quarterly. Prior to his death in 1978, he 
willed the controlling stock in his company to the institute. 
Working professionals, journalism teachers and students 
attend classes at Poynter, usually for one or two weeks at a 
time. The classes are designed to give students the tools to 
practice ethical journalism. Poynter also promotes and 
assists various journalism projects, such as the civic 
journalism projects supported by the Pew Center. Information 
on the Poynter Institute is found on the web at Poynter did not offer 
direct financial support for community journalism projects in 
which it became involved. Any grants awarded came from the 
Pew Center. 


the election process. Journalism professor Jay Rosen of New 
York University, one of the main proponents of public 
journalism, spent time in Boston helping to organize The 
People' s Voice. To some it seemed like nothing more than 
good journalism — find out what issues concern the public and 
cover those issues. "The same old wine in a not very new 
bottle" was the phrase used by Globe business correspondent 
Bruce Gellerman to describe this civic journalism project. 16 ' 
A lack of enthusiasm from the public, as evidenced by poor 
public attendance at focus group meetings, changed the 
project along the way. Globe political editor Bruce Mohl 
admits that, although the project started as an attempt to 
set an agenda around what the people wanted to talk about, it 
eventually switched to finding ways to fit people into the 
paper's election coverage. Business correspondent Bruce 
Gellerman agrees that the people became the story. 167 

166 Shaffer and Miller, Civic Journalism, 32. 

167 This was one of the projects for which Pew contribution 
information was unavailable. Assistant Managing Editor 
Walter Robinson said by telephone in mid May 2000 that was 
"beyond my ability to answer" a question about Pew 
contributions. Robinson deferred to Editorial Director Don 
MacGillis who had been more involved with the project. 
MacGillis did not call back. Robinson did report that the 
People' s Voice project was defunct, that it had had mixed 
results and that the concept of community journalism was 


The Seattle Times and two public radio stations combined 
for the "Front Porch Forum" in 1994, another effort to 
involve citizens in the political process, to get readers and 
listeners more interested in the topics being covered by 
journalists. The partners in this project literally built a 
front porch where voters could talk to each other and to 
political candidates. There were "call-in shows, question 
and answer columns, roundtable discussions, and even an 
unusual candidate debate with five undecided voters as the 
panel." 168 The project was not necessarily new ground for the 
Times, which had abandoned horse-race coverage of political 
races in the eighties. There were the usual concerns among 
staff that this was not the kind of undertaking appropriate 
for a news organization. Some worried that simply passing 
along citizens' questions to candidates would produce 
inaccurate information that would go unchallenged because 
journalists were not as fully involved as they would have 
been without the so-called public journalism aspect. As a 
result of those doubts, follow-up stories had to be assigned 
to give some of the questions and answers context. There 


were also follow-up stories suggested by the results of polls 
conducted by the Times and the two public radio stations. 
Representatives of all the media outlets involved agreed that 
good journalism cannot be abandoned in a civic journalism 
project. Among the stated goals of the Seattle project was 
to "create good PR for our representative organizations." 169 
The "representative organizations" were the partners in the 
Front Porch Forum. The PR aspect of the project was 
apparently very important to the partners. Said one KPLU 
staffer, "You can' t buy exposure like that on the front page 
of the Seattle Times." 110 

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer organized another civic 
journalism effort in the late 1980s in Columbus, Georgia. 
Employees at the Ledger determined that the town' s leadership 
was doing nothing to effect change in the town where change 
was needed. Schools were bad; there was racism; there was 
poverty; and wages were substandard. "Columbus Beyond 2000" 
was born when executives at the Ledger determined that no one 

Carmichael was the Pew contact for Front Porch Forum. 
Carmichael would not give information on the project when 
contacted, but promised to call back. She did not call back. 


else in town was going to do anything to solve local 
problems, and that included the city' s elected leaders. A 
series of questionnaires was administered to residents to 
determine what was bothering the community, what the issues 
were that the community needed to address. After a year of 
surveys and follow-up interviews, an eight -part series ran in 
the Ledger. In addition to listing the problems, the paper 
printed an agenda for progress. There was not a great deal 
of reaction to the series from civic leaders, so, at the 
urging of people in the community, once again stepping 
outside the normal boundaries of journalism, the paper' s 
leaders formed a task force. William Winn, who was the 
senior reporter on the project, reported that even after the 
Columbus Beyond 2000 campaign there were still problems in 
Columbus, but there was a new civic spirit; even business 
owners, who were at first threatened by "Columbus Beyond 
2000," were getting on the bandwagon. There was still 
racism. There was still poverty. Not everyone had the civic 
spirit. There was a tax freeze as a result of the revolt of 
property-tax payers. There was still weak political 
leadership. In addition, the careers of many employees at 
the paper were affected; some of those employees thought that 
they were doing something other than journalism and chose to 


leave the paper. Resentment was so acute among staffers that 
after a survey conducted by Knight-Ridder, which owns the 
newspaper, showed executive editor Jack Swift to be the focus 
of employee resentment, Swift committed suicide. No one 
claims that Swift' s only motive for suicide was his 
unpopularity in the newsroom, but it was apparently a factor. 
Nonetheless, Winn said, if given the opportunity, he would 
take part again in a similar project. Winn admits that much 
of what is called "public journalism" is just another way of 
saying "bad journalism." Winn uses the word "corporate" 
frequently when talking about the problems of public 
journalism. The term "public journalism," says Winn, shows 
up in all the corporate reports, even though the people using 
the term don't know what it means. He also says newspapers 
have lost touch with their communities, and one of the 
reasons is corporate ownership. Implicit in what Winn says 
is that executives of big corporations are trying to build 
readership with a gimmick called "public journalism." 171 

New Orleans 
In the 1991 Louisiana elections, David Duke was running 
for governor. His opponent was former governor Edwin Edwards 

171 William Winn, Lecture at University of Florida, Spring 


known for being at the center of controversy over his own 
alleged lack of ethics. Edwards had been indicted, but not 
convicted, on bribery and racketeering charges. 1 Staffers 
at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans made the decision that 
David Duke, with his Ku Klux Klan background and his views on 
race, was the greater of two evils. The newspaper embarked 
on an undisguised effort to bring about Duke' s defeat. Keith 
Woods, then city editor of the paper, wrote in an editorial 
that if Duke were elected, he (Woods) would leave Louisiana 
because he would not live in a state governed by a bigot. 
The effort to bring about Duke' s defeat was not limited to 
the editorial pages. Woods said, "The passion behind our 
editorial writing was also behind sending 40 people out to 
produce a volume of reporting on this election and on Duke." 
Woods says there was no attempt to uncover new truths about 
Edwards and, "there was no distinction between the editorials 
and the news coverage. It wasn't a blurring of the lines. 
It was an erasing of the lines." 173 

172 J. Yardley, "Fast Eddie Slows Down," Atlanta Constitution, 

7 January 1996, 8c. 

173 J. Black, B. Stc 

Journalism (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995), 73. 

173 J. Black, B. Steele, and R. Barney, Doing Ethics in 


As mentioned above, the first five examples were 
similar. It is admirable that the news organizations and the 
public relations group involved were working to increase 
public awareness of and participation in the democratic 
process. It has already been noted in this dissertation that 
a moral deed is only moral if it is selected for its own 
sake. 174 Although some may consider it arbitrary, that is the 
standard to be applied throughout the present work. When the 
comments of those practicing public journalism are read, it 
is clear that the purpose of much community journalism is not 
primarily to make the news consumer more aware of the 
democratic process; it is to make her a more avid news 
consumer with more of an appetite for newspapers and 
broadcast news. Comments such as, "You can' t buy exposure 
like that on the front page of the Seattle rimes," and "[ B] y 
getting people in on the ground floor, getting them more 
excited about this kind of process, we think they become 
better, or more regular, newspaper readers," betray self- 
serving motivations, rather than an intent to improve public 

119 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, D. Ross, trans. (Oxford: 
Oxford Press, 1987), 53. 


The last two examples were different. The journalists 
who were in support of the projects in Columbus and New 
Orleans were indeed doing what they thought best for the 
community, even though it violated many of their journalistic 
principles. Billy Winn of the Columbus-Ledger has said that 
to be an effective public journalist, you must risk some of 
yourself; you "must get into the boat with the people." 
The idea was the same in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune got 
"into the boat." There was obvious risk to the paper, yet no 
indication that its stand would increase circulation. 
Indeed, there was a risk of losing the Duke faithful as 
readers. There are many similarities between the journalism 
practiced in New Orleans and Columbus and the journalism of 
the three 1960s broadcasters who will be profiled in this 

The projects in Charlotte, Madison, Tallahassee, Boston, 
and Seattle displayed an intent beyond contributing to public 
life. All five had bottom-line considerations as at least 
partial motivation. They were being used, as Paul McMasters 
said, to "get some good vibes out there so that maybe people 
will start buying the paper again." 176 

175 Winn lecture, 1996. 


The projects in New Orleans and Columbus were driven by 
more purely altruistic intent. There was no outside support 
for either the New Orleans or Columbus project. They were 
conceived within the newsrooms of the organizations involved. 
They were conceived out of concern for the community. In 
both instances, the journalists involved were risking 
something with little chance they would reap anything more 
than improving public life. 




In this brief chapter, the issue to be considered in 
discussing community journalism is the danger that a 
communitarian view is antithetical to the libertarian nature 
of United States history and, in particular, the United 
States press. If a news organization is concerned with being 
part of the community as it promotes community values and 
norms, there is danger that the rights of individuals will 
become secondary. The views of community journalism 
proponents, who claim communitarianism is the cure for many 
of society' s ills, are discussed. The opposite view, the 
view that communitarianism stifles liberty, is also 

Anderson, Dardenne, and Killenberg, in 1996, described 
public journalism as a sort of conversational commons, the 
idea being that journalism should provide a forum for all to 



express opinions. 177 They advocated giving more people voice 
in the standard conduits of information. They lamented that 
the Internet was usurping the duties of newspapers without 
the involvement of journalists. One is tempted to write in 
the margin, "So what?" What Anderson and his co-authors were 
saying was that the press must combat loss of influence with 
a marketing strategy to keep customers interested. 

Two years earlier, Jay Rosen claimed that journalism was 
at a dead end. The way to get rolling again was to renounce 
the old ways, to find a new road-involvement in social 
change. Rosen and Merritt would have the press become 
activists, abandoning the old value of objectivity. They 
have asked the press to become involved; let personal views 
play a part in the way a story is covered instead of stepping 
back, refusing to become personally involved. J.H. 
Altschull would go a step further, would have the media 
become mediators in societal disputes. 179 "The mediator finds 

177 R. Anderson, R. Dardenne, and G.M. Killenberg, The 
American Newspaper as the Public Conversational Commons, 
Journal of Mass Media Ethics 11, 3 (1996): 159-165. 

178 Jay Rosen, "Public Journalism: First Principles," in 
Public Journalism: Theory and Practice. Jay Rosen & Davis 
Merritt eds. (Dayton: Kettering Foundation, 1994), 6-18. 

179 J.H. Altschull, "A Crisis of Conscience: Is Community 
Journalism the Answer? Journal of Mass Media Ethics 11-3 
(1996): 166-172. 


the places where antagonists are in agreement, no matter how 
small the area." 180 This agreement, according to Altschull, 
will bring the public out of its well-known apathy, and 
"people need to care if they are going to tune in to and read 
the news." 181 

Louis Hodges could be described as a modern-day social 
contract theorist within the journalism community, noting 
that we are living in a world in which he says one' s personal 
rights are paramount. 182 Hodges was obviously writing from a 
western point of view; in some parts of the world, food is 
more important than liberty, but Hodges, like social 
contractarians before him, has pointed out that individual 
liberties mean nothing unless others are duty-bound to honor 
those liberties. 183 The result, said Hodges, of such stress 

180 Ibid., 171. 

191 Ibid., 172. 

182 L. Hodges, Ruminations About the Communitarian Debate. 
Journal of Mass media Ethics 11, 3 (1996): 133-139. 

rulers and subjects, the other between members of society. 
Hodges is referring to the latter. The social contract in 
this case is an agreement between members of society to obey 
the same laws everyone else has promised to obey. In this 
arrangement, each member of society not only knows he is 
safe from harm from other members of society, but also that 
he is duty-bound not to harm others. Social contractarians 
contend that without such an arrangement society falls into 


on individual liberty is lots of rights talk and no duties 
talk. We live, said Hodges, in a world where reason is out 
and feeling is in, where individuals and groups follow their 
own specialized interests, where there is a messiah, with all 
the answers, on every street corner, or at least on every 
radio station. Too much individualism. The communitarian 
ideal, according to Hodges, rather than threatening personal 
liberties, might save them. In Hodges' view, the fixation 
on individualism is what threatened individual liberties 
because it did not acknowledge the rights of others. 
Communitarianism, on the other hand, said Hodges, does 
acknowledge the responsibility that goes along with freedom 
and, therefore, would enhance individual rights. In other 
words, give up a little freedom to get a lot. 

Glasser and Kraft claimed that public journalism, which 
might be described as "journalism of conversation," to use 

chaos. For a complete discussion of contract theory, see: 
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; in Michael L. Morgan, ed., 
Classics of Moral and Political Theory (Indianapolis/ 
Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 568-733; John 
Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Peter Laslett, ed. 
(Cambridge, England: University Press, 1960); John Rawls, A 
Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass., Belknap Press of Harvard 
University Press, 1971) ; and Jean Jacques Rousseau, On The 
Social Contract, in Michael L. Morgan, ed., Classics of Moral 
and Political Theory (Indianapolis /Cambridge: Hackett 
Publishing Company, 1992), 913-987. 


James Care/ s term, 184 is a journalism of hope, a journalism 
that preaches that there is a chance for the community to be 
a better place for all of us, and "us" includes the 
journalist as participant, not outside observer. 18: Glasser 
and Kraft, however, found public journalism lacking in 
openness. What they meant by "openness" is that public 
journalists should open up the books, so to speak, to allow 
news consumers a view of the decision-making process in the 
newsroom, and open up the editorial page for more criticism 
of the press from the public. 

Ralph Barney acknowledged in 1996 that the news business 
was a business in decline, with newspaper circulation off 35 
percent since 1965 and over-the-air television viewing, 
particularly news, down 20 percent in just two years. Barney 
wrote that communitarianism and communitarian journalism are 
only stops along the way to destruction. While admitting 
that the unprincipled individualism that is the enemy of 
communitarianism is also destructive, Barney said it is 

184 James Carey, "The Press, Public Opinion, and Public 
Discourse," in T.L. Glasser and C.T. Salmon, eds., Public 
Opinion and the Communication of Consent (New York: Guilford 
Press., 1995), 373-402. 

185 T.L. Glasser and S. Craft, "Public Journalism and the 
Prospects for Press Accountability, Journal of Mass Media 
Ethics 11, 3 (1996): 152-158. 


individualism (principled) that will save us from threats to 
press independence, including community journalism. Barney' s 
main complaint about community journalism was that it places 
loyalty to the group or society above liberty, as well as 
above truth. Barney pointed out that in a communitarian 
society, liberty is secondary to the group and, therefore, to 
the will of the group power elite. Truth is also secondary 
to community; if the truth hurts the group, don' t print it. 
If a reporter is a cheerleader for the community, she/he is 
powerless to bring about needed change, to point out the 
factors that make change possible or desirable. According to 
Barney, that is what is happening in community journalism. 
Barney wrote, "Media desperation is creating unconditional 
membership in professional communities. A 'we will do 
whatever you want if you will read/listen' attitude that 
gallops through society." 186 

Individualism was Barney' s antidote for community 
journalism, but it was individualism without the selfishness 
that has caused the press problems that now have journalists 
begging to be liked by the community and offering their 
independence and integrity as a white flag. Individualism 

186 Barney, "Community Journalism," 143-151. 


will tolerate community as well as pluralistic information, 
said Barney but, "Communitarianism at its most effective is 
intolerant of individualism and controlling of 
information." 187 When Barney spoke of individualism (in 
journalists) with selfishness, he was speaking of the kinds 
of phenomena that are mentioned in the freedom Forum polls, 
of the kinds of phenomena that were mentioned by the Hutchins 
Commission in 1947, phenomena such as sensationalism in 
reporting and big business and advertisers pulling strings 
and influencing news coverage. A journalist must be morally 
developed, said Barney, ideally well along the way toward 
what sociologist Lawrence Kohlberg called the Post- 
Conventional stages. 188 At this level of development, 
Kohlberg maintained that one is no longer driven by the 
desire to please others or the desire to avoid punishment but 
is driven by the higher virtues, such as respect for the 
liberty of all individuals. But within a communitarian 
society, according to Barney, one never gets to this stage 
because of the overwhelming weight of community opinion and 
the need to conform to society 7 s norms and values. The end 

10 ' Ibid., 144. 

188 Lawrence Kohlberg, The Philosophy of Moral Development 
(San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981) . 


result of this communitarian outlook: "Society will evolve 
to fit conditions described earlier, rule-bound, predictable, 
and convenient; all questions answered, no new ones needed; 
all behavior prescribed, few examinations of existing rules 
required or allowed." 

Paul McMasters, the past president of the Society of 
Professional Journalists and First Amendment Ombudsman for 
the Freedom Forum, who was quoted earlier in this study, is 
not a fan of community journalism, even when it is practiced 
in a way of which community journalism advocate, Davis 
Merritt, also quoted earlier, would approve, that is, without 
the primary aim of building ratings or readership. 
McMasters has expressed the opinion that journalists should 
never lose sight of the basics in reporting and pointed out 
that those who say they are practicing community journalism 
very seldom mention the First Amendment. 190 McMasters 
expressed the view that the attempt to gain public support 
through community journalism is misguided, that the press is 
in greater danger of losing public support if it fails to 
perform its "special role." 191 

169 Barney, "Community Journalism," 151. 
190 Paul McMasters, "Debate," 182. 


McMasters said he agreed with Thomas Jefferson' s view 
that an informed citizenry will want to participate in public 
life. Jay Rosen and other public journalism advocates, he 
said, have turned Jefferson' s principle upside down. 
According to McMasters, the community journalists contend 
that citizens who participate will want to be informed and, 
by implication, buy newspapers and listen to and watch 



In speaking of civic journalists, McMasters said: 

Every one of them has a little Sally Fields in there 
that wants to say, "You like me! You really like me!" And 
that could be the most dangerous human impulse that a 
journalist could have, because I think it deprives that 
journalist of the ability to do the right thing in many 
cases . 

We have, when we' re on duty, a special obligation to 
cover democracy' s parade, not join it. We can join the 
parade in all sorts of other ways when we' re not on duty. 
We' re not journalists every hour of the day. We' re not 
writing every hour of the day. But not only is it a 
special obligation of us to cover that parade with the 
unique perspective of the observer not to participate, it 
is sometimes incumbent upon us as journalists to rain on 
that parade. But I think that if we' re marching in it, 
we' re not going to rain on it. 193 

Although John Stuart Mill did not mention community 

journalism, the following statement by Mill has resonance 

Ibid., 17£ 


today when speaking of what Barney calls "democracy' s 

The chief mischief of the legal penalties is that they 
strengthen the social stigma. It is that stigma which 
is really effective, and so effective is it, that the 
profession of opinions which are under the ban of 
society is much less common in England, than is, in many 
other countries, the avowal of those which incur risk of 
judicial punishment. 194 

Mill was saying that what Alexis de Tocqueville called the 

"tyranny of the majority" 195 could be even more stifling than 

oppressive laws. That is what communitarianism is: a 

suppression of individual rights in the interest of 

community, the majority. 

The third fundamental (above) of Merritt' s democracy 

calls for "shared values," that is values shared by 

journalists and their readers or viewers. That is a valid 

community press ideal, but not valid for an independent press 

charged with responsibility for a Millian enlightenment of 

society's participants. If journalists share the same values 

194 M.L. Morgan, ed., Classics of Moral and Political Theory 
(Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hacket Publishing Company, 1992), 

195 J. Stone and S. Mennell, eds., Alexis de Tocqueville on 
Democracy, Revolution, and Society: Selected Writings 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 22. 


as their public, they will not, as Merrill says, rain on 
their own parade. 

There is a secondary question to consider in a study 
involving community journalism. The first question is 
concerned with defining true community journalism, with 
investigating the honesty of declared motivation. The 
secondary question involves asking whether community 
journalism in itself, even when done properly, is a force for 
good or a force that will be detrimental to society. 
Community journalists must ask if they are involved in an 
activity that will diminish individual liberties as it 
attempts to improve the lives of the individuals involved. 
Journalists opposed to community journalism must also 
question their own practices, must ask themselves if, as 
community journalists claim, an individual, objective 
approach to journalism is harming the community. 


As American mass media moved into the 1960s, members of 

the press and public expressed fear that the nation' s great 

editorial voices were diminishing, not only in number, but 

also in vigor. Those voices had, for the most part, been 

newspapers, but as early as 1938, Editor and Publisher told 

its readers: 

There are . . . about 1,200 cities in which single 
newspapers or single ownerships now supply all the 
printed news. . . . The danger remains that freedom for 
minority expression will be curtailed. . . . The 
American system thrives best when ideas strike sparks 
and opposites rub each other into useable size and 
shape. 196 

Ten years later, Institute of Public Administration President 

Luther H. Gulick expressed similar lamentations: 

While the radio has expanded the opportunity for civic 
enlightenment, it is still the independent and fearless 
newspaper that exercises local civic leadership. It is 
tragic that as to newspapers we are worse off today than 
we were forty years ago. There are fewer independent 
local newspapers, and fewer crusaders running them. 197 

196 Editor and Publisher, 31 December 1938, 20. 

A. Gayle Waldrop, Editor and Editori, 
Rinehart and Company, Inc., 1948), 423. 



In this chapter, the status of the broadcast editorial 
during the period under study is examined. First, the impact 
of regulatory change is explained. Then, the approaches to 
editorials taken by both network and local broadcasters are 


Tmnact of Regula tions 

It is important to note that this research is concerned 

with broadcasters who were bold enough to editorialize or 

concerned with community enough to want to. This work 

examines the actions and attitudes of those who might fall 

into the community journalist kind. The point is made 

frequently in this study that many broadcasters cared little 

for risking bottom-line in order to offer opinion. They are 

not the broadcasters of interest here, except as they offer 

contrast to the subjects of this research. 

Radio broadcasters interested in offering opinion had 

been reluctant to step into the editorial breach. They had 

first been told by the Federal Communications Commission in 

its 1941 Mayflower Decision that they were not to 

editorialize at all because it was not in the public 

interest. According to the commission: 

Under the American system of broadcasting it is clear 
that responsibility for the conduct of a broadcast 
station must rest initially with the broadcaster. It is 


equally clear that with the limitations in frequencies 
inherent in the nature of radio, the public interest can 
never be served by a dedication of any broadcast 
facility to the support of his own partisan ends. . . . 
A truly free radio cannot be used to advocate the causes 
of the licensee. It cannot be used to support the 
candidacies of his friends. It cannot be devoted to the 
support of the principles he happens to regard most 
favorably. In brief, the broadcaster cannot be an 
advocate. 1 

Even when the government, after telling broadcasters for 

eight years that they could not be advocates, reversed its 

position in 1949, encouraging broadcasters to editorialize as 

long as they aired opposing views, broadcasters were not 

anxious to forfeit valuable air time to their ideological 

opponents. 199 Nor were they certain how to approach a 

nebulous new freedom. Some observers expressed the opinion 

that broadcasters had indeed been given much greater latitude 

in handling broadcast opinion. Others said broadcasters were 

still operating under the restrictions of the old Mayflower 

Doctrine, but with slightly loosened reins. 200 New York Times 

columnist Jack Gould summed it up this way: 

198 Federal Communications Commission The Yankee Network 
(WAAB) , Docket 5618 and 5640, 16 January 1941. 

199 John L. Hulteng, The Opinion Function (New York: Harper 
and Row, 1973) , 141-142. 

200 Sammy R. Danna, "Broadcast Editorializing," Freedom of 
Information Center Publication No. 141, School of Journalism, 
University of Missouri, 1965. 


Its [ the Fairness Doctrine' s] chief drawback is that it 
is not clear and specific. . . . The broadcaster who 
wants to know what he can do next had better not 
dispense with legal counsel, yet. . . . What the FCC has 
now adopted as a solution to the vexing problem is a 
compromise. ... In short, the broadcaster as an 
individual can be a partisan advocate, but his station 
cannot. Certainly, it will be interesting to watch the 
broadcaster play on one team and also umpire the game. 

The Times also warned on its editorial page that perhaps the 

Fairness Doctrine gave the FCC even more power over 

broadcasters because instead of a no-editorial policy, the 

broadcasters were now subject to FCC control of whatever 

editorial policy they might decide to pursue. 20. 

As broadcasters approached and entered the 1960s, they 

were uncertain how to tackle the question of whether to 

editorialize at all and, if so, how to go about it? The 

broadcasters' right to editorialize had been alternately 

discouraged and encouraged by government. Television 

Quarterly said, "The TV editorialist does not always proceed 

in a high state of confidence." 203 In 1964, John E. McMillin 

201 Jack Gould, "The FCC Issues a Report on the Right of 
Broadcasters to Air Their Views," New York Times, 12 June 
1949, 9. 

202 Editorial, New York Times, "Radio Editorials," 4 June 
1949, 12L. 

203 Television Quarterly, Summer 1964, Vol. Ill, No. 3, 
Introduction to John E. McMillin, "Voices in a New 
Democracy," 27. 


wrote that broadcast editorializing was still "only in a 
developmental stage. . . . [ T] he country's near-600 
television stations are engaging in editorializing in a kind 
of policy chaos." 204 It should have been no surprise, said 
McMillin, that a promising trend to editorialize had slowed 
to a trickle and that there was evidence broadcasters had 
become somewhat less courageous in tackling significant, 
controversial subjects." 

McMillin divided the history of the editorial concept 
into four phases. The first had been the early radio period 
when broadcasters showed little interest in editorializing 
because they were developing in different directions. The 
second was the Mayflower period when FCC edict forbade 
editorializing. The third phase was the reversal and 
development period when the Fairness Doctrine seemed to 
encourage broadcasters to speak their minds, as long as 
opposing views were heard. The final phase, in McMillin' s 
view, writing in 1964, was the then current period of 

204 John E. McMillin, "Voices in a New Democracy," Television 
Quarterly, Summer 1964, Vol. Ill, No. 3, 27. McMillin was 
apparently referring to those nearly 200 stations that were 
actually editorializing, not saying that all 600 stations 
were delivering editorials. 

205 Ibid., 28. 


executive confusion. During this time, according to 
McMillin, the FCC was receiving more complaints about 
editorials; FCC interpretations of the Fairness Doctrine were 
becoming more involved; certain segments of the industry had 
become alarmed over seeming "inconsistencies and 
unreasonableness of the commission' s rulings" ; and even 
Congress was investigating broadcast editorializing. 
McMillin noted the beginnings of a movement to 
television editorializing in 1958 and a sharper interest 
during the next several years. After 1962, however, McMillin 
noted that the number of broadcasters rushing to editorialize 
had slowed to a trickle. McMillin cited a survey by the 
Television Information Office. The survey cited responses of 
157 editorializing stations. Through 1957, only fourteen 
stations had begun to editorialize, but in 1958 alone twenty 
stations began delivering editorials. Eighteen more began in 
1959, twenty-two in 1960, thirty-two in 1961, and forty-two 
in 1962. In 1963, only eight television stations began 
editorializing. Despite the 1963 slowdown, by 1964 McMillin 
was able to cite surveys by the National /Association of 
Broadcasters and the Television Information Office that 


showed nearly a third of the country' s television stations 
were delivering editorials. 207 McMillin does not speculate, 
but possible reasons for the increase in editorializing are 
the realization by station management that they had more 
freedom to editorialize, that they could better serve their 
communities by editorializing, and recognition that 
editorializing was paying off in increased ratings for some 
station that were editorializing. 

Television had taken its cue from radio. McMillin 
wrote, "A handful of radio stations had clearly demonstrated 
to the industry that a station could operate as a forceful 
meaningful editorial voice, and the example stimulated the 
adoption of editorial techniques in the more complex TV 
medium." 208 Furthermore, the FCC was making it clear that it 
now encouraged broadcast editorializing, although confusion 
about how an acceptable editorial policy was to be developed 

207 Ibid., 34-35. 

208 Ibid., 33. 


Timid Editorialists 

Unlike his predecessors, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow was 

a strong voice for editorializing. In 1962, Minnow told the 

NAB' s First Editorializing Conference in Washington: 

I want to talk today about broadcasting' s inescapable 
duty to make its voice ring with intelligence and 
leadership. The plain and unhappy fact is that our 
traditional avenues of communication are contracting not 
expanding. We are witnessing an odd and distressing 
phenomenon. The population is increasing at an 
explosive rate . . . but in the eye of this hurricane 
the number of metropolitan newspapers which 
traditionally have served our people is decreasing. 

I believe it is a matter of urgent national 
importance that radio and television reach out for their 
greatest potential — for broadcasting opens up a 
dimension in communications which the more traditional 
processes of the printed word cannot achieve. 20 

It is no wonder that attempts at editorializing during 

this period were halting. Nonetheless, as McMillin wrote: 

This phenomenon of broadcast editorializing is still 
only in a developmental stage; [ and] . . . though in its 
infancy, it is providing an entirely new interest in a 
wide variety of community affairs, and is providing new 
voices which American democracy has not known before. 

Many of the "new voices" were still reluctant to mount 

aggressive, hard-hitting editorial campaigns or crusades. 

Ashdown wrote, "Television stations have made strides toward 

reporting public issues, but most television stations are 

Ibid., 34. 
Ibid., 50. 


reluctant to take strong positions, perhaps in anticipation 

of government censures or domination of time by opponents 

seeking time for rebuttal." 

Others criticized television broadcasters for their 

timidity. Ed Routt, in his work on broadcasting and 

editorials, wrote that broadcasters were too afraid or too 

lethargic to advance strong editorial opinion. 212 Electronic 

Journalism author and professor of the Graduate School of 

Journalism at Columbia University, William A. Wood, asserted: 

With a few notable exceptions, most stations got into 
the field with some caution, and editorials championing 
motherhood and demanding fearlessly that Main Street' s 
name be changed to Affluent Way were more the rule than 
the exception. 213 

Media researchers Rivers, Peterson and Jensen opined, "Radio 

and television remain media that usually avoid 

controversy." 21 '' Researchers Sandman, Rubin and Sachsman 


212 Ed Routt, Dimensions of Broadcast Editorializing (Blue 
Ridge Summit, PA: Tab Books, 1974), 20. 

213 William A. Wood, Electronic Journalism (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1967), 65. 

The Mass Media and Modern Society, 2 na Ed. (New York: Holt, 
Rinehart and Winston, 1971), 229. 


When broadcasters do editorialize, they usually stick to 
noncontroversial topics: "Support Your Local Red Cross" 
and such. . . . There are significant hindrances to a 
strong editorial policy, but they are not the real 
reason most broadcasters lack such a policy. The real 
reason is much simpler. Strong editorials make enemies, 
and broadcasters will do nearly anything to avoid making 



As the 1960s approached, Mary Ann Cusack criticized the 
lack of editorializing by broadcasters, saying that in the 
ten years since the Federal Communications Commission had 
granted them the right to editorialize, they had failed to 
use the privilege. 216 Federal Communications Chairman John C. 
Doerfer had told the National Association of Broadcasters two 
years earlier that the unexpected shock of being allowed to 
editorialize, beginning in 1948, had left broadcasters too 
"dazed" to take advantage of their good fortune. Doerfer 
said, "But ten years is a long time to stand in stunned 
silence." 217 

215 Peter M. Sandman, David M. Rubin, and David B. Sachsman, 
Media, An Introductory Analysis of American Mass 
Communications (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1972), 

216 Mary Ann Cusack, "Editorializing in Broadcasting" (Ph.D. 
diss., Wayne State University, 1960), 1. 

217 John C. Doerfer, "Editorially Speaking — A Time for 
Action," Address to the National Association of Broadcasters, 
Los Angeles: 29 April 1958, 3, cited in Cusack, 2. 


Furthermore, Doerfer told the broadcasters, 173 million 
Americans were relying heavily on television. Eighty-three 
percent of American homes were equipped with television sets, 
even more with radio. Those numbers both grew during the 
1960s as television continued to gain influence. Yet, a 
Broadcasting magazine survey the same year showed only 14 
percent of the nation' s television stations editorializing on 
a regular basis. 218 Doerfer had already found that only 5 
percent of radio stations were editorializing. 

A brief look at contradictory attitudes within the 
broadcast industry of the period serves to explain some of 
the confusion over whether to editorialize and, if so, what 
form the editorials should take. The television code of the 
National Association of Broadcasters, published in 1959, was 
an echo of the FCC s Fairness Doctrine: 

Controversia l Public Issues: 

1. Television provides a valuable forum for the 

expression of responsible views on public issues of a 
controversial nature. In keeping therewith the 
television broadcaster should seek out and develop 
with accountable individuals, groups and 
organizations, programs relating to controversial 
public issues of import to its fellow citizens; and to 

218 Broadcasting, "The Status of Radio-TV News," 24 February 
1958, 172-175. When the wording of the frequency category of 
the question was expanded to "occasional," the same survey 
showed one-third of the nation' s TV stations editorializing. 


give fair representation to opposing sides of issues 

which materially affect the life or welfare of a 

substantial segment of the public. 
2. The provision of time for this purpose should be 

guided by the following principles: 

(a) Requests by individuals, groups or 

organizations for time to discuss their views on 
controversial public issues, should be 
considered on the basis of their individual 
merits, and in the light of the contribution 
which the use requested would make to the public 
interest, and to a well-balanced program 

NAB President Harold Fellows acknowledged that, even 
with an NAB policy, decisions on editorial policies were 
difficult. Fellows told broadcasters, "radio and television 
stations would like to editorialize just as newspapers do but 
they are hindered by a lack of governmental clarification of 
the thorny 'equal time' issue," 221 and, said Fellows, the FCC 

220 National Association of Broadcasters, Editorializing on 
the Air (Washington, DC: NAB, 1959), 40. 

221 Harold Fellows, "Address to the NAB," Chicago: 1959, 1, 
cited in Cusack, 193. The equal time clause of Section 315 
of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended in 1959 and 1960 
did not mention broadcast editorializing. The measure 
provided for political candidates to have equal access to use 
a broadcasting station when their opponents had such access. 
Time given to candidates on a "bona fide newscast," in a 
"bona fide interview," on a "bona fide news documentary," or 
in "on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events" was not 
deemed to be use of a station within the meaning of the 
Section 315. Section 315 did say, however, that nothing in 
the ruling was to be "construed as relieving broadcasters, in 
connection with the presentation of newscasts, news 
interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot news coverage 
of events, from the obligation imposed upon them by this 
chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford 


had encouraged broadcasters to editorialize without giving 
them any clear guidelines for doing it. 

Fellows added his voice to the critics of the editorial 
practices of some stations, remarking, "so-called editorials 
on some stations, however, are hardly more than public 
service announcements. There is a tendency in some cases to 
editorialize on matters that are free of controversy." 2 

Syndicated columnist John Crosby was no less critical of 
the television editorial. Writing for the New York Herald 
Tribune, Crosby said that until the 1949 reversal of the 
Mayflower Decision broadcasters had had no right to 
editorialize and since that time they had had no inclination 
to editorialize. 223 Crosby noted that from 1949 to 1958, CBS 
had aired three editorials. 

Members of the broadcast community were also critical of 
their industry 1 s editorial record as the decade of the 1960s 
was about to begin. Oregon Governor Robert D. Holmes, a 

reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting 
views on issues of public importance." Erik Barnouw, The 
Image Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 353- 

222 Ibid. 

223 John Crosby, "TV Finally Dares Editorials on News," 
Detroit Free Press, 10 March 1958, cited in Cusack, 201. 


broadcast station management team member, assessed public 
opinion of his business: 

What does the public feel about our profession as 
opinion makers, as compared, for example, to newspapers 
— I think we have to answer that we' re considered second 
rate. Perhaps it would not be too extreme to say that 
we are not considered to have any opinions as station 
owners and managers. ... It is true we sell time to 
buyers who have editorial opinions to express, but as 
people directly responsible for the operation of 
broadcasting facilities we do not have opinions. . . . 
In the privacy of our homes, among our fellows in 
the industry, we venture opinions and defend our 
judgments. We exercise choice when we register to vote 
and in fact do vote; we have our religious preferences, 
our social likes and dislikes. . . . 

But few if any of us carry over those choices and 
preferences into our business — which is the 
communication business. It is as though we— among all 
the other industries that make America great — led two 
lives; the private one, free and in the American 
tradition; the public one, bound and timid. . . . 

The right to have opinions is ours. We are 
permitted by law to editorialize, to promote our ideas 
and to defend our judgments. But we don' t do it. 

Network Guidance 

There was little guidance from the networks for local 

broadcasters who dared to editorialize, no published 

editorial guidelines. CBS, the network of WTVJ-TV and WJXT- 

TV, had said in a 1954 memo to its news staff: 

In news programs, there is to be no opinion or 
slanting. The news reporting must be straight and 

224 Robert Holmes, "The Broadcasters' Duty to Editorialize,'' 
Journal of Broadcasting (Spring 1957): 141. 


In news analysis there is to be elucidation, 
illumination and explanation of the facts and situation, 
but without bias or editorializing. 

In both news and analysis, the goal of the news 
broadcaster or the news analyst must be objectivity. I 
[William S. Paley] think we all recognize that human 
nature is such that no newsman is entirely free from his 
own personal prejudices, experience, and opinions, and 
that accordingly, 100% objectivity may not always be 
possible. Rnt the i m portant factor is that the new? 
bjgadsaSfcfiE and the news analyst must have the wJU and 
the intent to h P objective. That will and that intent, 
genuinely held and deeply instilled in him, is the best 
assurance of objectivity. His aim should be to make it 
possible for the listener to know the facts and to weigh 
them carefully so that he can better make up his own 


The foregoing was expressed by Mr. Paley in a speech 
at the NARTB Convention in 1954. It restates CBS policy 
not to engage in editorializing— a policy that has been 
in effect since the very birth of CBS News. 2 '' 

ABC, the network of WFTV-TV, with an apparently more 

editorial-friendly policy, advised employees: 

It is our policy to employ a staff of competent 
observers, representing the widest range of opinions, to 
comment on news developments. We determine the 
competency of each on a broad review of his education, 
and experience, keeping in view our desire to have all 
areas of opinion represented on our staff. 

Once employed, the commentator is given the widest 
latitude in analysis, interpretation and expression of 
opinion. We have found, through years of experience 
that this is the best way practicable to present all 
sides of the complex matters that arise. We call it the 
Spectrum Theory, and we think it works in the interests 
of enlightening the widest segment of our audience. 

225 Quoted in Cusack, 95-96. 


Ibid., 96. (In a letter from John Charles Daly, Vice 

President: June 27, 1958.) 


NBC Editor of News Samuel M. Sharkey was clear in 
responding to an inquiry by researcher Mary Ann Cusack: 

We do not have "regulations" to which commentators 
"are held in regard to the discussion of controversial 
news," as you put it. Our only requirement is the same 
as that governing all responsible news media, including 
newspapers and wire services; that he [ the commentator] 
be honest and fair and that he present both sides. We 
do permit him, on the basis of a solid, seasoned and 
reasoned analysis of all facets of a situation, to 
present a balanced and objective report and to draw 
therefrom, on the basis of these assembled facts, 
conclusions or to point out where these elements might 
lead next. We do not permit our commentators to exhort 
the public to do thus-and-so, or not to do this-and- 
that; we do not tell the public what to do. We feel 
that a properly and fairly informed public, apprised of 
all aspects of a situation, can be counted on to make 
the proper decision. We strive to present the public 
with the greatest amount of information so that it can 
make those decisions. 

And, finally, we do not have any official stand on 
controversy,' as you put it. We treat all news as 
delineated above, whether it be news of Congress or 
controversy or of cotton-weevils. 

Local Stations 

There was also disagreement and confusion over editorial 

policy among local stations across the country that 

editorialized as station owners and managers attempted to 

interpret FCC dictates. In 1958, Bertram Lebhar, Jr., 

executive vice president, and later owner of WEAT-TV, West 

Palm Beach was not a strong backer of editorializing but did 

227 Samuel M. Sharkey, Jr., Editor of News, NBC, 16 June 1958, 
quoted in Cusack, 96. 


not want to be constrained from editorializing if he were so 

In general, we agree that a station should exercise 
its right to editorialize, but only when the occasion 
arises. Since this pattern has been established with 
the American people for more than three decades of radio 
and television, I do not believe in radical changes. 

There are many decent things in our life, truly 
worthy of support, that a television station has the 
opportunity of being counted, in an editorial way, by 
the enthusiasm of its support for these causes. Where 
the issue is unquestionably a controversial one, I 
believe that a telecaster does better by making time 
available to both sides of an issue, rather than 
attempting to force his own personal opinion on the 
public. 228 

Influencing Lebhar' s philosophy was his regard for the 

news as another vehicle for producing income. Any unpopular 

editorial stands were likely to diminish that potential. In 

addition, much of the station' s business was done on a 

"trade-out" basis, that is, goods or services for Lebhar and 

the station in return for commercial air time. Crusading 

editorials might have damaged those arrangements. 22 

There were other stations, however, with quite different 

editorial policies. A.J. Fletcher, president of WRAL-TV in 

Raleigh, North Carolina, told Television Quarterly: 

228 " The Editorial: TV Finds its Voice," Television Quarterly 
(Winter, 1958) : 21. 

229 Personal recollection — the author worked at WEAT-TV in the 


Not infrequently, editorializing by a television 
station is the only way a community can get both sides 
of questions which involve public welfare. In our 
opinion, newspapers should not have exclusive right to 
the opportunity to influence public thinking for the 
good. 230 

At about the same time, Ralph Renick was making a 

similarly strong statement for the television editorial in 

Editor and Publisher, saying the editorial was a "natural" 

function of the broadcast news operation and that it was up 

to TV to fill the gap being left by newspapers. Furthermore, 

said Renick, it was the news director who should do the 

editorializing. 231 This was a year after Renick had become 

the first local anchor/news director to begin delivering 

nightly editorials. Renick' s views on editorials, as well as 

those of Norm Davis and Joe Brechner, are more fully explored 

elsewhere in this dissertation. 

At the end of the 1950s, those stations around the 

country that editorialized, both radio and television, were 

230 "The Editorial: TV Finds its Voice," Television Quarterly 
Winter, 1958) : 21. 

231 "Radio-TV Newsmen Prod Themselves," Editor and Publisher, 
25 October 1958, 65. Also Ashdown, 142-143. Also interviews 
with Renick family, 3 March 2000. Renick was an exception in 
this regard. Most editorials were being delivered by station 
management. Renick was in an unusual position in that co- 
owner Mitchell Wolfson, known at WTVJ-TV as "The Colonel," 
gave Renick complete control over the news department and the 
editorial function. Renick had also stated he believed the 
news anchor had more credibility. 


getting mixed results in their editorial efforts. Following 
criticism of a local movie theater, radio station WKCB in 
Berlin, New Hampshire, had been so severely strained 
financially by the fight against a libel suit that it could 
not pay its employees. 232 WKCB had begun broadcasting daily 
editorials in November 1957. The station's editorials had 
charged that a local theater company was allowing young 
hoodlums to hang out in one of its theaters, and the youths 
were playing pinball machines and jukeboxes and fornicating 
on the premises. The station had suffered not only financial 
hardship. Station owner Richard B. McKee reported, "The 
juvenile delinquency series has brought threats of bodily 
harm and of death to himself [ McKee] and other station 
personnel. On one occasion the station was invaded by a gang 
of hoodlums." 233 Nonetheless, McKee felt his editorial 
efforts were worthwhile, that the campaign had made his 
station a force in the community where there was no local 
newspaper and no other radio station. 

The same year, a Washington, DC, radio station had a 
less bumpy road when it began ten-a-day editorials after a 

232 "Hectic Week for Editorializing," Broadcasting 54, 21 (26 
May 1958) : 84. 


mother called to complain that her six-year-old daughter had 
been molested and that police had released the accused 
molester back into the neighborhood the same day on a $2,000 
bond. For three months WWDC broadcast editorials on the 
subject of child molesters, and then sent copies of its 
editorials to courts and law officers. The editorials called 
attention to the lax handling of child molestation cases and 
the release of accused offenders who would be free until they 
stood trial, perhaps many months later. The WWDC editorials 
resulted in adoption of a "get tough policy" on child 
molesters in the District of Columbia and only positive 
results for the station. 234 

Some television stations were also editorializing on 
substantial issues and taking strong stands. In Detroit, 
Lawrence Carino, WJBK-TV general manager, was seen regularly 
on editorials of substance. 235 In Springfield, Massachusetts, 
WWLP-TV President William Putnam editorialized regularly "in 
a crusading vein." 236 There were dozens of other 
editorialists taking stands on important issues as the 1950s 

234 "Hectic Week for Editorializing," Broadcasting 54, 21 (26 
May 1958) : 84. 

235 McMillin, 41. 


ended and the 1960s arrived. However, they were not "typical 

of the average editorial on the average station [ that 

editorialized] on the average day. In general, TV s 

editorials speak more quietly, and on less controversial 

matters." 237 

Time and again the FCC sent mixed messages about 

editorializing to broadcasters. In its 1958 ruling in the 

case of WBTV-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Commission 

condemned a WBTV editorial campaign against subscription 

television. Commissioners said WBTV had clearly stacked the 

deck against subscription television, had permitted only 

advocates of its own anti-subscription position to air their 

views, and had not fulfilled its duties under the Fairness 

Doctrine. 238 The Commission built a convincing case against 

WBTV, reiterated the sanctions it had threatened to use 

against stations that failed to adhere to the Doctrine, then 

recapitulated its standard for making final decisions on 

renewing licenses: 

While this Commission and its predecessor, the 
Federal Radio Commission, have, from the beginning of 
effective radio regulation in 1927, properly considered 
that a licensee' s overall program service is one of the 
primary indicia of his ability to serve the public 

237 Ibid., 41. 


interest, actual consideration of such service has 
always been limited to a determination as to whether the 
licensee' s programming, taken as a whole, demonstrates 
that the licensee is aware of his listening public and 
is willing and able to make an honest and reasonable 
effort to live up to such obligations. The action of 
the station in carrying or refusing to carry any 
particular program is of relevance only as the station' s 
actions with respect to such programs fits into its 
overall pattern of broadcast service, and must be 
considered in the light of its other program 

That said, the Commission reprimanded WBTV — and granted 
a license renewal. Commissioners had been lenient because of 
the station' s "overall operations as a broadcast licensee," 
but had made it clear they were watching broadcasters who 

In her 1959 dissertation reviewing the state of 
broadcast editorializing, Mary Ann Cusack drew several 
conclusions. Cusack wrote, "It appears to this writer that 
it is an assumption in the first place, which must be tested, 
that the FCC is in a practical position to judge the 
editorial policy of a station." 240 Cusack reviewed the 
commonly acknowledged problem that a broadcaster may be 

239 Federal Communications Commission, Broadcast Actions 
of the Federal Communications Commission (Washington, DC: 
Report No. 3207, Public Notice B, 60209, 19 June 1958) 1. 

240 Cusack, 236. 


someone with a "flute-like" voice, but little background to 

qualify him to offer opinion. 241 

Cusack found in her research that money was a source of 

problems for editorialists. It cost more to hire trained 

editorialists. Giving airtime to those with opposing views 

was a direct hit on the bottom line for broadcasters. 

Advertisers (synonymous with "income") might be offended by 

editorials and withdraw advertising dollars. Advertisers 

were likely to be identified with editorial opinion expressed 

on the programs they sponsored. Newspaper advertisers, on 

the other hand, were seldom connected, in the public view, to 

opinions expressed on the editorial page. Therefore, taking 

all these factors into consideration, it was "easy to do 

nothing" and "very expensive to do anything." 242 

Cusack wrote: 

This writer concludes that the handling of the so- 
called controversial issues presents one of the most 
perplexing problems faced by the broadcasting industry 
today. . . . The handling of controversy on the air 
requires courage, social responsibility and mature 

241 Cusack, 239. In this observation, Cusack was repeating 
the reservations of observers she had interviewed for her 
dissertation. Cusack and others writing during this time 
period almost always referred to broadcasters, editorialists, 
and other journalists in the masculine. 


wisdom. On the whole, broadcasters have shown a 
conspicuous lack of these qualities. 24 

Such was the atmosphere for broadcasters in the late 

1950s, the 1960s, and the early 1970s. It was in a setting 

of mixed signals and sometimes sheer lack of trust from the 

Federal Communications Commission, from print journalists 

from their own industry, from educators, and from the public 

that broadcasters considering editorializing were forced to 

make their judgments. Broadcasters could not be certain how 

the Federal Communications Commission would view their 

editorial efforts. There was criticism of broadcast 

editorialists, particularly from print journalists, because 

of a perceived lack of intellectual depth. The bottom line 

was in jeopardy when broadcasters editorialized, not only 

from giving up air time to opposing views, but also because 

of the danger of offending advertisers. As Cusack stated, 

"The handling of controversy on the air requires courage, 

social responsibility and mature wisdom. On the whole, 

broadcasters have shown a conspicuous lack of these 


In this chapter, the status of the broadcast editorial 

during the period under study has been examined. The impact 

243 Ibid., 252-253. 


of regulatory change has been explained. The approaches to 
editorials taken by both network and local broadcasters have 
been explored. These regulatory changes and attitudes of 
networks and other local stations in the country were part of 
the backdrop against which Joe Brechner, Norm Davis, and 
Ralph Renick delivered their own editorials. It was within a 
changing and unfriendly climate for broadcasters who 
expressed on-the-air opinion that the three editorialists 
chose to embark upon paths that would put them in the 
vanguard of their industry and their communities. 


Brechner, Davis, and Renick faced a number of serious 
pressures and issues when making decisions about editorial 
topics. Because two of the editorialists were so concerned 
with civil rights, it is necessary that the reader have a 
sense of civil rights background activities in Florida. To 
understand why what was happening in Florida is significant, 
it is also necessary to recall that racism was not limited to 
the South. Racist attitudes, in many cases, were imported 
from northern regions of the country. Finally, to help the 
reader understand the background of Norm Davis' s work in 
Jacksonville, a brief history of consolidation attempts and 
governmental corruption in Jacksonville is included in this 

This chapter reviews some of the events of the 1960s 
that would have been part of news coverage of each of the 
editorialists' stations. There is then an examination of 
civil rights activities in Florida, including activities 
of the Ku Klux Klan. Events in so-called civil rights 



"hot-spots" in Florida are covered. The chapter concludes 
with the aforementioned review of Jacksonville area 
government . 

The 1960s in America 
William Manchester, in The Glory and the Dream, wrote 
that civil rights and the Vietnam War were the two overriding 
issues in American life in the 1960s. 2ii In February 1965, 
for instance, felony indictments against the men accused of 
killing three civil rights workers the year before in 
Mississippi had been dismissed; Confederate flags were being 
displayed outside the federal building in Jackson; members of 
the press covering the story were attacked by white 
Mississippi residents. It would not be until late 1967, 
following persistent legal maneuvering by federal 
investigators, that the eighteen alleged conspirators in the 
murders would go to trial. Seven of them would be found 
guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the three 
murdered men. 245 It would be another three years before they 

244 William Raymond Manchester, The Glory and the Dream: A 
Narrative History of America (Boston: Brown, Little, 1974) . 

245 William Bradford Huie, Three Lives for Mississippi (New 
York: Signet Books, 1968), 150-160. 


would begin serving their sentences. 246 Late in February, 
Malcolm X was assassinated. Three civil rights workers were 
killed during the Selma-Montgomery marches. All-white juries 
acquitted the accused killers of two of them. The defendant 
in the third murder was killed in an auto accident before his 
trial could be completed. 247 

During the 1960s, city after city was hit by violence 
related to the Civil Rights Movement. In Detroit, in 1967, a 
raid on an after-hours social club led to five days of 
rioting and forty-three deaths. 248 In Newark, New Jersey, 
twenty-one blacks were killed in the 1967 rioting that 
followed Mayor Hugh Addonizio' s refusal to nominate a black 
man as Secretary of the Board of Education. 249 

Although 1967 was not the only year of violence in the 
country, or in the South, it was the worst of the decade. 
Historian William Manchester estimates the number of cities 

246 Seth Cagin and Philip Dray, We Are Not Afraid (New York: 
MacMillan Publishing Company, 1988), 452. 

247 Ibid. 

248 Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil 
Disorders, Otto Kerner (Chmn.) (New York: New York Times 
Co., 1968), 84-108. 


hit by race riots during that year at 114. 250 In Tampa, 
Florida, a young black man was shot to death by a police 
officer early in the summer of 1967. Two days of rioting 
followed. 251 In July of the same year, blacks in Riviera 
Beach, Florida, rioted to protest police brutality against a 
black man. 252 The following year, 1968, brought rioting to 
Miami. 253 Trouble had come to central Florida earlier in the 
decade. 1963 and 1964 were both violent years in St. 
Augustine. 254 

Mixed with daily news of civil rights issues was news of 
the war in Vietnam. Viet Cong troops overran Pleiku on 5 
February 1965, killing eight U.S. soldiers, wounding 126, and 
destroying sixteen helicopters and six fixed-wing aircraft. 

250 Manchester, GJory and the Dream (Boston: Brown, Little, 
1974), 1022-1025. 

251 Kerner Commission Report (New York: New York Times Co., 
1968), 411. 

252 James W. Button, Blacks and Social Change: Impact of the 
Civil Rights Movement in Southern Communities (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1989), 102. 

American Heritage of Florida (Gainesville: The University 
Press of Florida, 1995) , 354. 

254 David J. Garrow (ed. ) , St. Augustine, Florida, 1963-1964: 
Mass Protest and Racial Violence (Brooklyn: Carlson 
Publishing, Inc., 1989). 


President Johnson ordered stepped-up U.S. bombing of the 
north. Three days later, Viet Cong attacked a hotel being 
used as a U.S. Army barracks. This time, twenty-three 
soldiers were killed, twenty-one injured. The bombing was 
stepped up again, and it was to be sustained in an operation 
called "Rolling Thunder." On 24 March, Vietnam War protesters 
held a "teach-in" on the University of Michigan campus. On 9 
June, for the first time, President Johnson authorized the 
use of United States' ground troops in Vietnam. The draft 
was increased. Troop commitment was increased. Because of 
war expenditures, the federal deficit soared. Also in June, 
Generals Ky and Thieu took control of the South Vietnamese 
rnment. 255 

Many disappointments shook the United States during the 
1960s, including several assassinations of American leaders. 
One president' s administration was cut short by a shooter in 
a book depository in Dallas. Another president's 
administration ended because of a disastrous military policy. 
That military policy resulted in loss of prestige on the 

,5 Manchester, The Glory and the Dream, 1022-1025. 


world stage. The country also watched as its economy went 
from boom to bust during the decade. 256 

Twenty years later, University of California at Berkeley 
sociology professor Todd Gitlin wrote, "[ T] he genies that 
'the Sixties' loosed are still abroad in the land." 257 In The 
Sixties, Years of Hope, Days of Rage, Gitlin, who had been an 
early president of Students for a Democratic Society and had 
helped organize the first national demonstration against the 
Vietnam War, described the decade as a war between the left 
and right, the establishment and the outsiders. The question 
to be answered: "Who won the war?" 

Gitlin saw the sixties as a series of great successes 
and squandered opportunities, "unsatisfactory as this answer 
may ring to those who think, in Hollywood fashion, that 
history is either (choose one) a chorus of angels or a 
bummer." 251 Gitlin wrote that those who were part of the 
television industry in the sixties covered the first 

256 Robert D. Marcus, A Brief History of the United States 
Since 1945 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1975), 213. 

Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New 
York: Bantam Books, 1993,) xiv. 

258 Ibid., xv. 


presidential assassination of the television age, and, 
"Thanks to the wonders of instant replay, drove the event." 

Another phenomenon of the 1960s, left over from the 
1950s, was, according to Jerome Klinkowitz, the delivery, 
through late-night clear-channel radio, of African-American 
music from the South, "never meant for white, northern 
ears." 260 In addition, there were television' s pictures of 
war and racial strife — pictures that would challenge the 
"age-old domestic notion of order." 261 And as early as 1965, 
pollster Lou Harris was reporting a disenchantment with 
television on the part of the American public. 26 ' 
Civil Right s Background in Florida 
Florida' s civil rights background in the years before 
the 1960s was a violent one. It was not just the era 
immediately before the 1960s that included violent incidents. 
Violence had been a part of the racial picture in Florida for 
many years. Black voting numbers had been diminished in 1889 

Ibid., 312. 

a Decade of Change (Ames: The Iowa State University Press, 
1980), 90. 

261 Ibid., 111. 

262 Manchester, The Glory and the Dream, 1022-1025. 


by a poll tax enacted by the legislature. Because all blacks 
had registered as republicans, the adoption of a Democratic 
white primary in 1897 had further diminished their voting 
role. When blacks attempted to vote in the general election 
in November 1920 in Ocoee, violence broke out. Black citizens 
were beaten, their homes burned, several were killed, and 
hundreds were forced to leave the area. 263 

The issue of voting rights was not the only issue to 
spark racial violence in Florida. In the first seventeen 
years of the twentieth century, approximately ninety black 
men and women were lynched in Florida. Some black men were 
falsely accused of rape. Others were lynched simply because 
they had insulted a white citizen. Mob violence claimed 
lives in the 1920s in places such as Perry and Rosewood. 
Between 1918 and 1930, another fifty blacks were lynched by 
white mobs. 264 

Blacks struggled financially in the early and mid part 
of the century. They were kept in low-paying, mostly 
agricultural jobs. Some worked as truck drivers, others in 

263 Maxine D. Jones, in The New History of Florida, ed. 
Michael Gannon, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 
1996), 374. 

264 Ibid., 379. 


lumber mills or on the railroad as porters and waiters. Many 
black women left agricultural jobs to find work as domestics, 
personal servants, and service workers. In some parts of 
Florida, this race-related division of labor continued into 
the latter part of the century. 265 

In an apparent step forward for civil rights, the United 
States Supreme Court outlawed the all-white primary in 
Florida in 1944. Blacks were allowed to register as 
Democrats or Republicans, and the number of black voters in 
the state increased from 20,000 in 1944 to more than 100,000 
in 1950. Nonetheless, there were still several 
majority— black communities with few registered black voters. 

Some of the credit for increased black representation at 
the polls was given to Harry T. Moore of the NAACP and the 
Progressive Voters League. In his home county of Brevard 
more than 50 percent of eligible black voters were registered 
to vote by 1950. Moore campaigned against lynching and 
inhumane treatment of black prisoners and for equal salary 
for black teachers. He was killed when his home was bombed on 
Christmas day 1951. 266 


The black schoolteachers for whom Moore had campaigned 
entered the 1960s with a history of low pay and teaching in 
overcrowded, poorly equipped schools. Black schools closed 
during harvest time so young blacks could join the farm work 
force. White students continued to attend classes during the 
harvest. Parents and teachers in several Florida counties, 
with the help of the NAACP and the Florida Teachers 
Association, challenged these so-called "Strawberry Schools," 
and in the late 1950s the practice of closing black schools 
at harvest time ended. 267 

It was not until the late 1950s that black college 
students had choices beyond all-black colleges. Florida 
Agricultural and Mechanical University, Bethune-Cookman 
College, Florida Memorial, and Edward Waters College educated 
black students, but blacks and whites did not attend the same 
colleges. Until 1958, there were no graduate programs for 
black students in Florida. If a black man or woman wanted to 
study law or medicine or engineering, the only choice was to 
leave the state. In 1958, a nine-year legal battle by Virgil 
Hawkins, who had refused to attend law school out of state, 
was finally settled in Hawkins' favor when federal district 

Ibid., 383-384. 


court Judge Dozier De Vane ordered the University of Florida 
to open its graduate schools to blacks. Hawkins, his long 
fight apparently successful, did not benefit. The university 
determined that he did not meet its law school admission 
requirements. However, another black student, George H. 
Starke, was admitted to the university' s law school for the 
1958 fall semester. 268 

Imported Attitnrias 

Much of Florida' s racism was imported from other parts 
of the United States. The history of Florida is a history of 
immigration. As late as 1860, there were only 140,000 people 
in the state, and there were almost as many slaves as slave- 
owners. Businessmen and landowners, aware that their 
livelihoods depended upon enlarging the state' s population, 
began promoting Florida as a paradise. Competition developed 
among Florida counties for new residents. 269 

Following the Civil War, Florida landowners, who had 
come from other parts of the country themselves, expressed 
discontent with the black work force in the state and began 

Raymond A. Mohl and George E. Pozzetta, "From Migration 
to Multiculturalism: A History of Florida Immigration," in 
Gannon, The New History of Florida, 391-417. 


searching for new sources of labor. Italians and Chinese 
especially were encouraged to migrate to Florida. 
Unfortunately for the immigrants, landowners had expected 
them to simply take the place of black slaves. When this 
plan did not succeed, Italians and Chinese also became the 
victims of discrimination. 270 

Foreign immigrants had some successes. For instance, 
Greeks found success sponge-diving in Tarpon Springs; Cubans 
established cigar-making industries in Key West and Tampa; 
and Bahamians established a "livelihood migration" providing 
labor to build a rapidly growing Miami. Even the immigrants 
who flourished economically in the United States experienced 
discrimination. Particularly affected by racism and dislike 
for outsiders were black immigrants. They were the victims 
of another immigrant to Florida — racism. 271 

The Ku Klux Klan is synonymous with racism. The 
beginnings of the Klan have been traced to the days just 
after the Civil War. The organization was disbanded in 1869 
but experienced resurgence after World War I. Klan groups 
were "part of the communal and political life of the nation 

271 Ibid., 391-399. 


from Maine to California." 272 The Klan' s rebirth occurred 
first in Georgia with its center of power in Atlanta, but 
powerful Klan groups existed in Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, 
Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, 
and Maine. In some of those states, the Klan placed people 
in offices of power, such as governorships and U.S. Senate 
seats. The "Invisible Empire" was not at all invisible. 273 

The Klan showed its strength even in the nation' s 
capital in 1925 when 40 thousand members paraded down 
Pennsylvania Avenue, but violence within its own ranks began 
to cost the Klan membership. The KKK, its numbers dwindling, 
turned its attention from Catholic and alien citizens to 
communism and the New Deal. Anti-semitism also became part 
of the Klan program. 274 

As World War II approached, the Ku Klux Klan experienced 
another decline in influence and membership. At the end of 
the war, Georgia dentist Samuel Green took over as the Klan' s 
Grand Wizard, attempting to restore the group to its former 
robustness. Parades, cross-burnings, and floggings of blacks 

David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, The History of the 
Ku Klux Klan, (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965), 1-2. 

273 Ibid., 3-4. 

274 Ibid., 5. 


once again became common. Even Green' s leadership could not 
do much to revitalize the Klan, and when he died in 1949, the 
movement became a disorganized conglomeration of splinter 
groups with memberships consisting of malcontents looking for 
scapegoats. 275 

After James A. Colescott was elevated to Grand Wizard of 
the Klan in 1939, although he was from Atlanta, Florida 
became one of his frequent stops. He appeared in Tampa, 
Orlando, Daytona, Avon Park, and Live Oak. Klansmen in Miami 
threatened black voters. Colescott later told congressional 
probers his organization' s most secure stronghold was 
Florida. 276 

Nativism, the favoring of native-born Americans over 
immigrants, was one of the favorite themes of the Klan. 277 


Ibid., 6-7. Although the topic is far too broad for 
examination in this work, the phenomenon of malcontents 
looking for scapegoats touches on the origins of racism. 
Bennett examined the motivations of racists in 1988, 
concluding that racism as well as nativism, and even 
nationalism, can be the result of feelings of powerlessness. 
David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements 
to the New Right in American History (Chapel Hill: University 
of North Carolina Press 1988), 1-14. 

The Klan did not mean the original Native Americans found 
on this continent by white Europeans when they arrived to 
begin colonization. " Native-born Americans" was a term the 
Klan used to refer to descendants of the white Europeans, 
born in North America. 


Furthermore, Klan members preached that the black was the 
vehicle to be used by those who would promote the interests 
of immigrants over the native-born. 278 

Sidney J. Catts was an example of a fervent nativist. 
Catts had brought his support of nativism to Florida from 
Alabama in 1916. Catts abandoned his Baptist ministry to 
enter politics. A major part of his platform was nativism. 279 
Catts was elected governor of the state. He used his office 
to widely disseminate his message of support for "the 
American flag, Prohibition, and the little red schoolhouse 
against the menace of the convent, parochial school, Rome, 
and Africa." It was the same message the Klan would soon 


The Ku Klux Klan in Florida 
The Ku Klux Klan in Florida had gained its strength as 
individual Klaverns, rather than as one statewide 
organization. In the 1920s, Jacksonville was home to the 
strongest of those Klaverns. The Stonewall Jackson No. 1 
was, for a time, the largest in the state. Klansmen met 

278 Garrow, St. Augustine, 116-117. 

279 Wayne Flynt, Cracker Messiah: Governor Sidney J. Catts of 
Florida (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 
1977), 31-32. 

280 Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, 225. 


openly, ran for political office, and the Jacksonville and 
Levy County fairs had special Klan days. Klaverns were 
growing in other areas of Florida. Chapters proliferated in 
Miami, West Palm Beach, Key West, Ocala, Fort Myers, Orlando, 
Ocoee, and elsewhere. 281 

The Klan was responsible for much violence in Florida. 
In Kissimmee, during the spring of 1923 three black men were 
whipped, tarred, and feathered. That same year, there was a 
series of floggings of black men in Tampa. At least a dozen 
blacks were beaten in Sumter County. In 1926 in 
Jacksonville, there were reports of at least sixty-three 
floggings. Two of the victims had died. 282 Michael Gannon 
wrote in his Short History of Florida, "blacks in the 
interior knew that at any time, for the slightest offense, 
real or imagined, they could be subject to physical violence, 
including death." Gannon also reported that Florida led the 
country in lynchings, with 4.5 per 10,000 blacks, at least 
twice the rate of any other southern state. Gangs of whites 
could wipe out entire black towns. Rosewood was obliterated 
in 1923 when seventeen blacks were slain. An entire section 

Ibid., 225-227; Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History, 
(Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 1993), 86. 

Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, 228. 


of Ocoee had suffered a similar end in 1920 when four blacks 
were killed. 283 

Klan activity in Florida continued well past the 1920s. 
The summer of 1951 was described as a "summer of cross 
burnings from Miami and Fort Myers to Jacksonville and the 
panhandle." Klan Grand Dragon Bill Hendrix campaigned for 
governor of Florida in 1951 as a way to get his message 
across in the face of growing resistance in Florida to the 
Klan. One indication of that resistance was the introduction 
and passage in the state legislature of an anti-mask bill. 284 

In 1960, the Klan was the organizer of "Ax-handle 
Saturday" in Jacksonville. Blacks had scheduled lunch 
counter sit-ins at Jacksonville department and dime stores. 
Members of the Florida Klan, armed with ax handles, were 
waiting for black demonstrators on the morning of 27 August. 
The Klan attacked, setting off three days of rioting between 

Gannon, Florida, 86. 


Chalmers, 340. HB No. 130 was introduced by Mssrs. Melvin 
of Santa Rosa, Darby of Escambia, Watson of Lee, and Beasley 
of Walton. It was passed by the House, then by the Senate 
and signed by the governor on 4 May 1951. It became Florida 
Statute 876.11-876.21. Florida Statues, State of Florida 
(1951), 2738-2739. 


Jacksonville blacks and whites. During the same month, three 
black-owned businesses in Jacksonville were bombed. 285 

The Klan was busy in Orlando the following year. 1961 
was the year lunch counter sit-ins began in the Orange 
County' s largest city. One Klan tactic was to leave cards at 
targeted lunch counters with the message: "A Negro had that 
spoon in his mouth." A similar tactic was tried in Ocala in 
1963. In 1964, the Klan played a major part in the "long hot 
summer" of St. Augustine. Civil rights organizer Dr. R.N. 
Hayling, a black dentist, was one of four men severely beaten 
when they were found to be observing a Klan meeting. An 
observer called the sheriff, who intervened in the beating 
and arrested four of the assailants. Juries found the 
Klansmen not guilty of assault and battery, but convicted the 
four blacks of attacking the Klansmen. 286 
A Statewi de View 

Occurrences in other cities in Florida were important 
for at least three reasons: (1) Because events in one Florida 
city could influence events in other Florida cities, there 
was concern in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami when 
disturbances were reported elsewhere; (2) because of that 

286 Ibid., 368-377. 

concern, two of the broadcasters who are the main subjects of 
this dissertation sometimes editorialized about events in 
other communities; and (3) in the case of St. Augustine, that 
community is considered part of the Jacksonville television 
market . 

St. August inp 
St. Augustine was among the most volatile of Florida 
cities in the 1960s civil rights era. A large segment of the 
St. Augustine business community had ties to the John Birch 
Society. Many of the city's leaders, even if they were not 
members of the Society, were reported to hold the same views 
as the Birchers. The business community's support of the 
John Birch Society also made it difficult for others in St. 
Augustine to accept compromise with civil rights forces in 
the mid-1960s and was, therefore, part of the reason the city 
became one of the fiercest battlegrounds of Florida' s civil 
rights conflict in the 1960s. 287 

Although, before the civil rights movement of the sixties 
heated up, it was considered by both blacks and whites to 
have a generally "above average" racial atmosphere, St. 


David R. Colburn, "Saint Augustine and Desegregation " 
in Southern Businessmen and Desegregation, eds. Elizabeth 
Jacoway & David Colburn, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State 
University Press, 1982), 214-215. 


Augustine experienced some of the worst racial strife of any 
1960s Florida community. Part of the reason for this 
apparent contradiction was that the above-average racial 
atmosphere was built upon a strict social structure with 
blacks kept "in their place." 288 

Black citizens made up 21 percent of the population of 
St. Augustine in 1950, but they held a distinctly 
disadvantaged position, both socially and economically. 
Black families averaged $3,500 annual income in 1960. White 
families averaged $5,000. Sixty percent of black women 
worked in domestic or service work. White children were 
averaging more than eleven years of education; black children 
were averaging only about seven and one-half years. 289 

Following the 1954 Brown decision by the United States 
Supreme Court, which outlawed so-called "separate but equal" 
school facilities and required desegregated schools, St. 
Augustine' s black citizens increased their efforts for equal 
rights. There were sporadic lunch counter sit-ins, as well 

18 St. Augustine, FL, 1963-1964, David J. Garrow, ed. 
(Brooklyn, 1989), 11-16. 

Colburn, "St. Augustine and Desegregation," 216-21? 


as demonstrations demanding integration at other 
facilities. 290 

Adding to the volatility of the racial mix, a group 
called the "Ancient City Hunting Club" was active in the 
area. The group, according to press reports of the 1960s, 
was no more than a front for the Ku Klux Klan. It was led by 
"Hoss" Manucy, who also was the reputed leader of Manuc/ s 
Raiders, a gang of racists known for violent acts against 
black citizens. Although the Raiders were said to number one 
thousand, there were never reliable reports of more than a 
few dozen members. Even with a limited number of followers, 
Manucy- s reputation helped him organize anti-integration 
demonstrations, and St. Augustine's nonviolent citizenry 
feared his Raiders because of their violent acts. 291 

As mentioned in the previous section, one of the leaders 
of the demonstrations, black dentist Robert Hayling, was 
waylaid in 1963 by a group of Ku Klux Klansmen and severely 
beaten. Someone, presumably the Klan, fired shots into his 
home several times. His dog was killed in one of those 
incidents. Teenagers who took part in demonstrations 
organized by Hayling were jailed for four months when their 

290 Ibid., 215. 

Garrow, St. Augustine, 42, 97-98, 100, 103, 109, 116-117. 


parents refused to pledge to keep the young people from 
participating in future demonstrations. Some black adults 
were fired from their jobs for participating in 
demonstrations. The wives of men involved in demonstrations 
were threatened with loss of their own jobs if their husbands 
continued to demonstrate. 292 


Tampa, unlike St. Augustine, was considered a "New 
South" city. While St. Augustine was proud of its heritage 
as the oldest city in America, Tampa' s growth was recent as 
the decade of the 1960s began. In the 1950s, the population 
of Tampa had doubled. By 1960, approximately 275,000 people 
lived there; 47 thousand of them were black. The Chamber of 
Commerce was boasting that economic development in Tampa was 
"snowballing." The city's business owners had a bright 
future to protect. 293 

One way they attempted to protect that future was by 
avoiding racial strife. There had been minor incidents over 


Colburn, "St. Augustine and Desegregation," 216. 
Additional instances of civil rights conflicts in St. 
Augustine, as well as in other cities in Florida, are 
described in the chapters on the three editorialists who are 
the primary focus of this dissertation, particularly in the 
chapter on Ralph Renick. 

293 Steven F. Lawson, "From Sit-in to Race Riot," in Southern 
Businessmen and Desegregation, 257-260. 


lack of service for blacks at department store lunch 
counters. One refusal of service in early 1950 had resulted 
in a two hour demonstration that ended in a scuffle between a 
black protester and a white man. That incident was enough to 
alert the business community and both black and white 
moderates that without steps to head off more problems 
economic disaster lay ahead. A bi-racial committee that had 
been formed by Tampa Mayor Julian Lane in 1959 prevailed upon 
store owners with lunch counters to integrate quietly. The 
store owners were made aware that any prolonged period of 
racial problems would be disastrous for Tampa' s booming 
business climate. Black members of the committee convinced 
sit-in demonstrators to conduct their protests with reserve. 
In one instance, after several months planning, on a day when 
the committee and civic and business leaders had agreed that 
Tampa lunch counters would be integrated, fourteen pairs of 
blacks were served at the lunch counters of eighteen stores. 
They were careful to arrive at a time when there would be few 
white patrons in the stores, and they had been advised to 
"conform to norms of proper middle-class behavior." 
Waitresses were told by their bosses to be extra courteous to 
the black lunch counter patrons . Employees who were 


resistant to serving blacks were given the day off. The 
lunch counter integration was successful — and quiet. 29,1 

However, the same problems that existed in St. Augustine 
and other American cities were present in Tampa. During the 
mid-sixties, the bi-racial committee, known at first as the 
Bi-Racial Committee, then as the Commission of Community 
Relations (CCR) , implemented a program of slow, non- 
confrontational integration, called "the Tampa Technique." 
By 1967, there was little segregation left in Tampa. There 
was, however, still racial discrimination, enforced 
economically. Blacks were admitted to movie theaters and 
bowling alleys and lunch counters and "twenty-dollar hotels," 
but some black leaders charged that was no more than window- 
dressing. Because of lack of employment opportunities, black 
leaders charged, black citizens were denied access to the 
more expensive levels of Tampa life. Civil service 
examinations kept blacks from getting upper echelon jobs with 
the government. Even when blacks had the education and 
skills to perform better-paying jobs, there was de-facto 
resistance by white employers and whites were hired 
instead. 295 

Ibid., 266-267. 


Although integration appeared to be working in Tampa, 
blacks were dissatisfied with the pace of building low-cost 
housing, with the poor quality of police protection in black 
neighborhoods, with the shortage of recreational facilities 
in black areas, and with exploitation of blacks by white 
business owners in black neighborhoods. The "Tampa 
Technique" was also part of the reason for growing 
discontent. The slow, steady approach to integration turned 
out to be more slow than steady. The Commission of Community 
Relations was getting warnings by 1966 that discontent was 
growing and that Tampa stood on the threshold of the same 
riots that took place in Cleveland, Atlanta, and other 
cities. The CCR was warned in early 1967 that any gains from 
advances in integration and equal treatment were accruing to 
the black middle class and not to the poor who needed them 
most. 296 

The warnings were valid. When a white policeman fatally 
shot a fleeing robbery suspect in Tampa on 11 June 1967, 
racial tensions exploded. Rioting broke out first in an area 
of low income blacks, an area in which the unemployment rate 
was twice that of the white population, an area with decaying 
housing, an area where the educational level was at the Tampa 

296 Ibid., 274-275. 


norm of 7.7 years for blacks. Four nights of burning, 
looting, and rock-throwing followed. No one was killed in 
the rioting, but sixteen people were injured. Damage 
estimates ranged as high as $1 million. Once quiet was 
restored, the Commission of Community Relations began working 
anew with Tampa' s business community and representatives from 
black neighborhoods to create more jobs for blacks. Business 
people pledged financial aid for job training and 
establishment of a Young Adult Council, to be made up of 
young blacks. However, money collected amounted to only a 
third of money pledged and by the end of the decade, the 
project had been abandoned. 

The Orlando area also had a violent racial history. 
When July Perry of Ocoee, fourteen miles from Orlando, 
insisted on exercising his right to vote in the 1920 election 
in which Warren G. Harding was elected president, Perry paid 
with his life. Perry had gone to the polls despite "palpable 
. . . fear and intimations of physical violence in Ocoee." 297 
Perry had outwitted Ku Klux Klan members in Ocoee who had set 
up a system by which blacks were forced to have their voter' s 

Kathy flmich Fuqua-Cardwell, "Racial Justice: Orange County 
1920-1970" (Master's thesis, Rollins College, 1992), 21. 


registration validated by the town' s one Justice of the 
Peace. When the Justice of the Peace left town early in the 
day to go fishing in Orlando, Perry drove to Orlando to get 
the required validation. He then drove back to Ocoee to 
vote. That is one version of the story, the black version. 291 
The white version, reported in the Orlando Morning Sentinel, 
was that Perry had showed up at the polls with a shotgun, 
demanding to be allowed to vote although he had not paid a 
poll tax. 299 

There are also conflicting stories of what happened 
after that. The black version told of white vigilantes going 
to Perr/ s house. When a white hit Perry with the butt of a 
rifle, a black woman in the house fired her rifle, hitting 
the assailant in the arm. Gunfire erupted throughout the 
house and Perry was seriously wounded. He was taken to jail 
by the so-called "posse," while whites rampaged through the 
black section of Ocoee. At 3:30 the morning of November 
third, Perry was taken from his cell by a group of 
approximately one hundred whites. He was tied to the back of 
a car and dragged from Ocoee to Orlando. Once in Orlando, he 

Ibid., 21-22. 

"As Negro Hou: 
is Exploded," Orlando Morning Sentinel, 4 November 1920, 1. 


was hanged. The white version left out the part of the story 
that related Perr/ s torturous trip tied to the back of a 
car. Both versions related that his body was riddled by 
bullets as it swung from a tree near Lake Adair. 301 

Perry was not the only one to die in the election 
violence. The Orlando Morning Sentinel headlines reported 
that two whites were dead in the Ocoee race riot. The 
Sentinel neglected to mention in its headline that five 
blacks, including Perry, had also died, the blacks lives 
apparently not important enough to merit inclusion in the 
headline. The story that followed related that calmness had 
settled over the "battle scarred shambles," that two white 
men were dead, five whites had been wounded, an unknown 
number of Negroes in addition to Perry killed, and twenty 
five Negro houses, two churches and a lodge burned. 301 
Members of the white vigilante group who had killed Perry and 
taken part in the rest of the violence were never prosecuted. 
A letter written by officers who investigated said only that 
Perry and another black man were troublemakers. The sheriff 
and his deputies who investigated were also Klan members. 

301 "As Negro Houses Burned, " 1 . 


After the November third incidents, the black section of town 
ceased to exist. 302 

Although there were no more reported incidents of 
lynchings in the Orlando area after Perry' s death, life for 
the area' s black citizens remained difficult. Schooling was 
inadequate. During the 1940s, there was only one high 
school, Jones High School. No other schools for blacks went 
beyond the fifth grade. A black child from Orange County who 
lived outside the city of Orlando and wanted to attend Jones 
had to room with relatives or friends in the city during the 
week. Textbooks were secondhand, passed along from white 
schools and always with racial slurs written in them by the 
white students who knew black children would have them next. 
Buses for black students did not run until 1947. 303 

The murder of July Perry may have been the last lynching 
in the Orlando area, but it was not the last racial violence. 
In 1944, a black man bold enough to take advantage of a 
Supreme Court decision declaring all-white primaries unlawful 
went to the polls in Orlando to cast his vote in a heretofore 
all white primary. He was beaten and then jailed. In July 
1949, white mobs attacked blacks and burned black-owned homes 

302 Fuqua-Cardwell, 25. 

303 Ibid., 31-32. 


in Groveland, west of Orlando, after reports that four black 
men had kidnapped and raped a white housewife. A vigilante 
group, including members of the Ku Klux Klan, captured the 
four accused men. One of the accused was shot to death on 
the spot, killed by thirty shots fired into his body. The 
others were found guilty by an all-white jury. One was 
sentenced to fifteen years in prison but shown some leniency 
because he was only fifteen years old. The other two, Samuel 
Sheppard and Walter Lee Irvin, were given the death penalty. 
While the manhunt and subsequent trial were going on, 
Groveland whites had rampaged through town, burning 
buildings owned by blacks. Klan members were marching 
openly through Groveland. Two years later, the convictions 
were overturned because blacks had been excluded from the 
jury. As Sheriff Willis McCall took the defendants Sheppard 
and Irvin from Raiford Prison to a jail in Tavares for 
retrial, McCall shot and killed Sheppard and seriously 
wounded Irvin. McCall claimed they had tried to escape. 
Irvin said McCall fired for no apparent reason. The 
surviving defendants were retried and again found guilty. 
Irvin was later executed. McCall' s actions were ruled 


justifiable because he had "acted in the line of duty and in 
defense of his own life." 304 

There was still little interaction among the races in 
Orlando in the 1950s. Black and white citizens met only long 
enough for blacks to perform household chores and other jobs 
during the day. Then blacks retreated to their own 
neighborhoods at night. Fuqua-Cardwell wrote in her master 7 s 

Many black households had no sewage treatment 
whatsoever and used outhouses. Black teachers' salaries 
were one-quarter the salary of white teachers. Blacks 
would only be treated by black doctors. Black women, 
choosing to deliver babies at Orange Memorial Hospital 
instead of at home with midwife Mary Jan Johnson, were 
confined to the basement of the hospital near the 
steampipes during labor. 

For blacks no motel or hotel, except those in black 
neighborhoods, was open to them. Public toilets might 
be available but blacks had to use the ones labeled 
colored or not at all. The Albertson Public Library 
might have a good collection of books in 1954, blacks 
had just petitioned the city for permission to even use 
the library. 305 

Although blacks were allowed to shop at places such as 

McCror/ s and Kress, they were required to stay within 

certain black areas of the stores. They could spend their 


Theodore Hemingway, "The Rise of Black Student 
Consciousness in Tallahassee and the State of Florida," in 
The Civil Rights Movement in Florida and the United States, 
Charles U. Smith, ed. (Tallahassee: Father and Son 
Publishing, Inc., 1989), 65-66; Fuqua-Cardwell, 59. 

305 Fuqua-Cardwell, 76. 


money there, but they could not buy food or drink, or even a 
glass of water at the all-white lunch counter. If they 
wanted water, there was a separate "colored" drinking 
fountain. An indignity that convinced some black women not 
to shop in the white stores was a requirement that if they 
wanted to try on hats they would have to wear stocking caps 
to keep the hats from touching their heads. Many chose to 
shop at home, buying from door-to-door salesmen who charged 
three times as much as the department stores. 306 Changes were 
needed if blacks were to share in Orlando' s booming economy 
and the 1960s would bring some of those changes. 

Although considered less a bastion of racism than some 
other Florida cities, Miami also was the scene of racial 
violence as well as Klan -activity. As blacks attempted to 
move into white neighborhoods in the mid 1940s, Klan members 
conducted an ongoing campaign to intimidate them. There were 
regular Klan parades during the latter half of the decade. 
Klan members burned houses, as well as crosses; they 
dynamited apartment complexes, hoping to frighten away black 
residents. Police in Miami, like other cities, were willing 
accomplices of white racists, enforcing invisible, but real, 

306 Ibid., 78. 


color lines. 307 Nonetheless, the economy and the interests 
of business helped keep a lid on race problems in Miami. The 
desire for a positive business environment, which included an 
absence of racial strife, was effective for only so long. 
Although the racial violence that hit other United States 
cities in the sixties did not come to Miami until late in the 
decade, Miami was not to escape racial strife. The events 
that brought that strife to the city are covered in the 
chapter on Ralph Renick' s editorials. 

History of Consolidation Attempts in Jacksonville 
When Norm Davis began his editorial campaign to uncover 
corruption in Jacksonville area government and to consolidate 
area government, he was stepping into an arena with a rich, 
but checkered, background. The mid-1960s was not the first 
time attempts had been made to bring more communities under 
the umbrella of a single, more organized government in the 
Jacksonville area. There had been earlier attempts to 
consolidate as well as attempts to annex neighboring 
communities to the city. 308 

307 Gannon, New Florida History, 442. 

Annexation and consolidation are different forms of 
governmental change. Annexation involves expanding the 
jurisdiction of an already existing city government. 
Consolidation is more ambitious; it involves throwing out the 


The first attempt at consolidation was made in 18 68. It 
was a commercial consolidation rather than a political one. 309 
A group of business-minded citizens organized a Board of 
Trade to consolidate not only the Jacksonville area but also 
all of North Florida' s agricultural and commercial interests 
with Jacksonville as the hub. Divisions soon developed, 
however, as old enmities flared within a business community 
that was evenly divided between those who had sympathized 
with the North and those who had sympathized with the South 
during the recently concluded Civil War. Board members had 
political party differences as well. Some backed the 
Democratic Party, others the Republicans. Slowly the 
Republican faction became dominant; the Democratic 
sympathizers left the board. By 1874, the board had 
disbanded and consolidation was abandoned. 310 

Even as consolidation was failing, population growth 
that strained city services was taking place. Towns around 
Jacksonville were enjoying the benefits of living near and 
sending citizens to work within Jacksonville, yet were 

old governmental structure, electing new leaders and wiping 
out old geographical boundaries. Martin, Consolidation, 2. 

Richard A. Martin, The City Makers (Jacksonville: 

Convention Press, Inc., 1972), 97. 


bearing none of the burden of supporting city services. 311 
In 1883, city leaders who had been floating bond issues to 
pay for improvements attempted to convince voters to approve 
annexation of several communities. It was an attempt to 
require citizens who were benefiting from improvements to pay 
for those improvements through taxes. The attempt was 
rejected by voters. 312 

In 1884, a new Board of Trade was formed under the 
leadership of Colonel J.J. Daniel. Daniel and other board 
members pushed for and won legislation that, in effect, 
created a consolidated municipality. Further reform in 1887 
included a new state constitution that allowed for formation 
of a consolidated government. In a referendum to form the 
new consolidated government, incumbent politicians, who had 
been involved in scandal, were defeated, but tragedy struck 
the following year in the form of a yellow fever epidemic. 
Colonel J.J. Daniel was among the fatalities. In a front 
page obituary, the Florida Times-Union said, "Had the scourge 
which has carried desolation and bereavement into so many 
Florida homes found no other victim than Colonel Daniel, it 
would have inflicted an incomparable disaster upon the 

311 Ibid., 5. 


state." 313 A confused citizenry, with no justification in 
fact, blamed the tragedies of the plague on the new city 
government, and consolidation was once again a victim of 
circumstances. Legislation was passed in the Florida House 
that allowed for appointment of a City Council by the 
governor. The City Council was given authority to appoint 
the Jacksonville mayor and all other city officials. 314 The 
legislation applied only to the city of Jacksonville and 
would be the status quo for almost thirty years. 315 

In 1917 and 1919, Jacksonville' s charter was amended to 
allow for a council-commission form of government, with 
commissioners assigned their own bailiwicks. The charter 
called for a board of five elected city commissioners who 
would be a group executive and responsible for actual 
administration of city government policy, each with his own 
department. The mayor-commissioner, for instance, controlled 
the police, fire, and building departments, as well as the 

313 The Florida Times Union, October 5, 1888, 1. 

314 Martin, Consolidation, 14. 

315 Laws of Florida, Chapter 3952~[ No 106.] "An Act to 
Establish the Municipality of Jacksonville, Provide for its 
Government and Prescribe its Jurisdiction and Powers." 
Approved 16 May 1889. Section 1 of this act, which gave the 
Governor authority to appoint eighteen council members, and 
the council members authority to appoint a mayor, was an 
amendment to an 1887 act. 


airports and the parking department. The elected City 
Council, on the other hand, was not to have control of 
specific departments but was to act as the city 7 s legislative 
body. Concurrently, a Duval County government was 
established with five commissioners, but no council members. 
It was, in terms of services, duplicative of the city 
government. The result was two police departments, two fire 
departments, and two engineers — two of almost everything. 
The obvious waste of resources led to voter disenchantment 
and legislative attempts in 1918 and in 1923 to consolidate. 
The matter went before the voters in 1924 and was defeated. 316 
However, with such a system in place, the possibilities for 
corruption and inefficiency were immense. 

Those possibilities were realized when in 1931, in an 
action similar to what would take place three and a half 
decades later, the grand jury returned seventy-five 
indictments against city officials. Several indictments were 
also returned against county officials. Very little was done 
in the wake of the indictments, except for the annexation of 
South Jacksonville. However, the indictments provided the 
impetus for passage of an amendment to the State 

316 Ibid., 16. 


Constitution, which would make consolidation possible. 317 The 
first time backers of consolidation attempted to use the 
amendment was 1935. Again, voters said, "No." 

The need for consolidation, nonetheless, was becoming 
more urgent as Jacksonville and Duval County continued to 
grow. Population increases were staggering. Between 1930 
and 1950, total population of the county and city grew by 
almost 170 percent, from 37,000 to 99,000 residents. 318 In 
the ten years leading up to 1963, as much as $330 million 
went into construction. By 1965, companies based in 
Jacksonville had more than $57 6 million in assets. 319 With 
the growth, came the problems of growth, problems that were 
being overlooked by those who were supposed to be on watch. 

During this time, the City of Jacksonville was losing 
population; Duval County was gaining residents. In the years 
between 1950 and 1965, Jacksonville' s population dropped by 
5,000 residents to 198,000. Duval County's population rose 
225 percent to more than 325,000. All of those people 
outside the city trying to get into town in the morning, 

318 Richard Martin, A Quiet Revolution, (Jacksonville: White 
Publishing Co., 1993) , 28. 

319 Ibid., 32. 


trying to get out at night, using Jacksonville roads, and 
using Jacksonville infrastructure were putting a terrible 
strain on the city's resources. In addition, they were 
putting a strain on the resources of the bedroom communities 
in which they lived. Those communities had not been designed 
as suburbs of a major city; they had been designed to handle 
the relatively few problems of rural areas. 320 

Annexation was attempted in 1963 and again in 1964, an 
attempt to make some of the communities surrounding 
Jacksonville, drawing on its resources, a tax-paying part of 
the city. Annexation was voted down both times because of 
opposition outside the city. 

In the spring of 1965, the Florida Legislature, at the 
urging of local citizens stung by obvious government 
ineptitude, approved a bill creating a Study Commission to 
look into consolidation. 321 Legislators appointed seventeen 
members to the Commission' s executive committee. Committee 
members elected J.J. Daniel, the grandson of the previously 
mentioned Colonel J.J. Daniel, as the permanent chairman. 
The Commission studied consolidation, held hearings in the 

320 Ibid., 39-40. 

Jules L. Wagman, Jacksonville and Florida's First Coast. 
(Northridge, Ca.: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1988), 28. 


communities involved, and solicited input from the greater 

Jacksonville area. On 23 November 1965, the committee 

offered its recommendations for a sweeping change of 

Jacksonville government, a consolidation of city and county. 

This history of attempts to consolidate government in the 

Jacksonville area leads up to the 1967 attempt, an attempt 

that would be different because of different forces at work. 

One of those forces was Norm Davis of WJXT-TV. Davis 

was facing not only a history of failed attempts at 

consolidation but also an entrenched power structure in 

Jacksonville with a strong wish to preserve the status quo. 

Both Davis and WJXT news director Bill Grove recalled in 

later years that some of the media in Jacksonville were part 

of that status quo, owned by the Florida East Coast Railway 

and the Alfred I. DuPont business structure, which was 

administered by Edward Ball. In 1987, the late United States 

Congressman Claude Pepper described Ball as part of a 

greedy band of men who would go to any extreme to 
destroy a public official who supported Social Security, 
minimum wages, health care, and so on. Such people make 
life unbearable for millions. But they cost a little 
money and that made life unbearable for the insatiably 
greedy. 322 


Claude Denson Pepper, Pepper: Eyewitness to a Century 
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987), 206. 


Florida, although a state considered part of the new 
South, was still in many ways part of the old South. White 
racist attitudes were a fact of life for blacks attempting to 
survive 20 th century Florida. Part of the background of the 
racist attitudes of many Floridians was imported. It stood 
to reason, with so many people coming from other parts of the 
country where racism existed, racism would come with them. 
Some Florida cities avoided racial strife for a time 
because city government and business leaders recognized the 
importance of presenting a peaceful facade. However, with a 
violent, repressive racial background that included much Ku 
Klux Klan activity, cosmetic attempts at integration would 
not be enough to allow the state to escape the racial turmoil 
that was typical of 1960s America. It was within this racial 
climate that Brechner and Renick undertook their civil rights 
editorial crusades. In so doing, they were attempting to 
improve their communities through their existential form of 
community journalism. 

In Jacksonville, WJXT and Norm Davis were concerned with 
a different history during their editorial campaign. It was 
government corruption and inefficiency that required their 
effort during the mid-1960s. As will be explained in Chapter 
9, the chapter that examines Norm Davis, it was a more 


concentrated campaign, spanning fewer years than the 
campaigns examined in Chapters 8 and 10 on Ralph Renick and 
Joe Brechner. It may have also been the most demonstrably 
effective of any of the campaigns examined in this research. 
Davis and his associates faced formidable odds in attempting 
to change the power structure in Jacksonville, but proved 
themselves equal to the task. 


It was 2 September 1957. The lanky, almost painfully 
thin, young newscaster with dark, slicked-back hair, studio 
lights reflected in his horn-rimmed glasses was calling for 
construction of a fire station on the Miami area island 
community of Key Biscayne. Ralph Renick, who had been the 
first television newscaster in the Miami market, was 
achieving another first. He was beginning the first 
regularly scheduled daily editorials on television in the 
country. 323 The editorial did not inspire Miami officials to 
immediate action; it would be ten years before the fire 
station would be built, but it was the precursor to 
editorials and editorial campaigns that would be much more 

Ralph Renick' s editorial policies were a result of ideas 
formed during childhood in the Miami area and during his 
undergraduate years at the University of Miami. They 
reflected a belief that a reporter should be a contributing, 

323 S.L. Alexander, "May the Good News," 57. 



participatory member of his community. His editorial 
crusades exemplify his dedication to community improvement, 
and his communitarian approach to journalism. The most 
notable editorial crusades involved crime, restaurant 
sanitation, B-girl strip joints, and civil rights. 

In this section, the pioneering editorials of Renick are 
examined. Renick' s background in the community and in 
broadcasting is explained, with particular attention to the 
editorialist's motivations. Renick' s own stated views on the 
role of a broadcast editorialist are also explored. Finally, 
the editorial crusades are outlined individually. 

The Nation's First Nightly TV Editorials 
When Renick started the WTVJ editorials, he had been on 
the air for eight years as the station' s only anchorman. He 
had been hired in 1949 by WTVJ President Mitchell Wolfson as 
a new graduate of the University of Miami' s Radio-TV-Film 
Department. At the time he was hired, he had recently been 
fired by a Miami Beach FM station because of a perceived 
speech impediment. 324 The perception of Renick' s boss at the 
Miami Beach station seemed only to confirm what Renick had 

Recordings of Renick' s newscasts reveal there was no 
speech impediment. Apparently what the manager of the FM 
radio station heard was a tendency to mumble, a tendency 
Renick soon overcame. 


been told by Dr. Sydney Head, the chair of the Radio-TV-Film 
Department at the University of Miami where Ralph attended 
college. Head had told Renick that the young man would never 
make it in broadcasting. 325 Wolf son heard no speech 
impediment, hired Renick as an intern, and the following year 
installed him as WTVJ news editor, news anchorman, news 
writer, and news film editor. Renick was the station' s news 
rtment. 326 

Ralph Renick was well equipped for a career as a South 
Florida newsman and editorialist. Although he had been born 
in New York, he and his divorced mother and two brothers 
moved to Hialeah when he was twelve. At the time, Hialeah 
was so unsettled, Ralph and his family had to be on the 
lookout for rattlesnakes in the yard. 327 Nevertheless, the 
Renicks stayed and became part of the growing Miami 

5 Interview with Rosalie Spiedell, Ralph' s mother, 11 March 

Sherry Woods, "What Keeps Renick on Top," Miami News, 19 
January 1977, 7A. 

Neil Shister, "The Renick Regime Turns 30," Miami Herald, 
10 November 1982, TV Section, 5. This may have been 
something of an exaggeration by Shister or by Renick. 
Renick' s brothers do not now remember snakes in the yard, but 
they do remember seeing snakes on the way to the store. 


In a revealing statement of news philosophy, Renick 
would say later, "I believe in growing up in a neighborhood, 
getting married, and raising a family there, knowing what the 
problems are in that community before you try to report 
them." ' Renick was true to his philosophy. He married Betty 
Jane Henry, known as "Bane," in June of 1949. Ralph and Bane 
had six children in the next fifteen years. Ralph was left 
to raise them alone when Bane died in 1964, only eight months 
after the last of the children was born. 329 

By reviewing his educational pursuits, one might have 
also surmised that Renick would become involved in television 
editorializing. He had majored in radio-television-film at 
the University of Miami and minored in journalism. After 
graduation he had obtained an H.V. Kaltenborn Foundation 
Fellowship. The fellowship allowed him to study "the theory 
and practices of communicating ideas through broadcasting 
media or the press." 330 It also opened his eyes to the work 

Bob Michaels, "Renick, Cronkite: Parallel Goes Deeper Than 
Style," Palm Beach Post, 3 March 1981, 85. 

"Wife of TV's Ralph Renick Dies After Long Illness," Miami 
Herald, 14 June 1964. 

Fran Matera, "WTVJ, Miami: Wolf son, Renick, and 'May The 

Good News Be Yours,' in Television in America: Local Station 

History From Across the Nation, ed. Michael D. Murray and 

Donald G. Godfrey (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1997) 


of Kaltenborn, a brilliant and fiercely independent radio 

editorialist. 331 Kaltenborn is given credit for broadcasting 

the first editorial on radio on 4 April 1922. He had moved 

to television, working for NBC, in 1940. There he helped to 

pioneer television news. He had frequently expressed the 

view that opinion was a necessary part of delivering the news 

so audience members could understand the stories that made up 

the day's flow of information. 332 

It was an association that Renick would continue for 

fifteen years. Kaltenborn even made occasional appearances 

to deliver editorials on Renick' s news program until the 

pioneer commentator died in 1965. The day after Kaltenborn' s 

death, Renick acknowledged the influence of the old veteran 

on the young broadcaster' s life. 

There was a time in this country — as a matter of fact — 
around the entire world, when the voice was all 
powerful. . . . 

These were the days of strong opinions, of vocal 
vibrancy, of personalities that spoke their minds and 
didn' t care whether people agreed with them or not . . . 
some think it was broadcasting' s finest hour. . . . 

One of the men largely responsible for pioneering free 
expression on radio was H.V. Kaltenborn. . . . 

Erik Barnouw, The Golden Web (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1968), 135-36. 

Michael D. Murray, ed., Encyclopedia of Television News 
(Phoenix: The Oryx Press, 1999), 115. 


Mr. Kaltenborn' s death leaves a void in the ranks of 
those few men in broadcast opinionating who have 
achieved an emeritus ranking. . . . 

If I may be permitted a personal note — it was Mr. 
Kaltenborn who was directly responsible for my entrance 
into the broadcast news profession. The year was 1949. 
Mr. Kaltenborn established a foundation to enable 
graduating college students to undertake a research 
investigation in the communications field. The 
Kaltenborn Foundation awarded me its first fellowship 
and I came from the University of Miami to WTVJ — 
Florida' s first television station — to pursue my 
investigation of TV news. In the years since, Mr. 
Kaltenborn has been a steady supporter, as well as 
constructive critic, of my efforts in broadcasting. 
He was an inspiration to all of us latter day toilers in 
the vineyard he planted back in 1924. . . . 

H.V. Kaltenborn' s integrity and search for knowledge and 
the truth leaves a heritage for all of us to carry on. 333 

By the 1960s, Renick was a news institution in Miami. 

He had had a seven-year head start on other newscasters in 

town, delivering his first newscast, "The Ralph Renick 

Report," on 17 July 1950. 334 The newscast was a report of 

national and international news, meant to fill the needs of 

Miamians for news about the Korean War. Film used on the 

daily newscasts was at least twenty-four hours old, sent by 

Ralph Renick "Broadcasting Loses A Pioneer," The Ralph 
Renick Report, 15 June 1965. All editorials cited in this 
dissertation are on file at the Louis Wolfson Media History 
Center in the Miami Dade Public Library, 101 West Flagler St. 
and in Special Collections, University Park Library, Florida 
International University, both in Miami, Florida. 

S.L. Alexander, "May the Good News," 57. 


air from New York. Renick' s only viewing room for the film 
was a station restroom. It was not uninterrupted viewing. 
Occasionally someone had to use the restroom for purposes 
other than screening film. 335 

During the next year, "The Ralph Renick Report" expanded 
to fifteen minutes and included local news. As time passed, 
Miami City Commission meetings, the Florida State 
Legislature, various national conventions, Senator Estes 
Kefauver and his Senate Crime Investigative Committee, and 
Miami' s bumper-to-bumper traffic all became part of WTVJ' s 
news coverage. WTVJ bought a new mobile unit to expand 
coverage of Miami. 336 

Renick became part of the news in 1956 when he mediated 
fifteen meetings held in Delray Beach, just north of Miami. 
The meetings had been called to resolve tensions within the 
community over the use of public beaches by blacks. The 
dispute was settled with Renick' s guidance, and he returned 
to being merely a reporter on events in his community. 
However, he had again demonstrated allegiance to a philosophy 
of the newscaster as participant in community life. 337 

335 Ibid., 

336 Ibid. 

337 Ashdown, 56. 


In 1957, Renick faced competition for the first time. 
NBC affiliate WCKT-TV signed on that year, followed a year 
later by ABC affiliate WPLG-TV. 338 Until 1957, Renick had 
had the market to himself. He had learned his craft on the 
air, at a time when there was no competition for viewers to 
turn to if he made mistakes. Renick had established himself 
as Miami' s television newscaster and as his ratings dominance 
continued he would become, in the words of former ABC Miami 
bureau chief Ted Koppel, "a national institution in a local 
television market." 339 He had developed the stature to become 
the nation' s first local newscaster to broadcast a nightly 

The Renick Ed itorials 

Ralph Renick' s editorial philosophy was elucidated 

frequently by the editorialist himself. Paul Ashdown 

interviewed Renick for Ashdown' s 1975 dissertation at Bowling 

Green State University. Renick told Ashdown he had come to 

understand that television editorials had more of an impact 

on viewers than on the subjects of those editorials: 

If you' re criticizing local public officials, they tend 
to be more responsive to the newspaper. They clip the 
articles, and get very excited and so forth. The 

338 Ibid., 60. 

339 Ibid., 62. 


newspaper editorials seem to have more effect on opinion 
leaders, but less effect on the public. The opinion 
leaders haven' t yet realized the impact of television 
editorializing on the public. 340 

Renick thought the reason for acceptance of the TV 

editorial by the public rested squarely on the shoulders of 

the editorialist. 

The television editorial has greater believability due 
to the personal endorsement of the individual delivering 
the comment. This person must have created confidence 
among his audience based on his known record of 
reportorial integrity. The television editorial is not 
an unsigned, anonymous piece. 341 

Renick contended that the editorial served more than just a 

public service function. It was also an image-builder for 

the station. 

The editorial gives the station a personality — allows it 
to forcefully exhibit to its community a social 
consciousness. A station with an editorial is not a 
neuter gender merely hitching a ride on the network 
video cable. . . . 

A broadcaster, through the editorial, can be the 
watchdog of the community; can aim the spotlight on 
corruption, graft and illicit actions of office holders 
and public employees. The station which fearlessly 
editorializes will reap great benefits in prestige, 
audience attractions, advertising income gains as 
well as being able to guide your community and 
accomplish good through your position of editorial 
leadership. . . . 



Ashdown, "Television and the Editorial Crusade," 1975) 

Ralph Renick, Address, 13 th Annual RTNDA Convention, 
Chicago, 16 October 1958, p. 4.; cited in Ashdown, 72. 


Commensurate with the responsibility to provide 
information is the responsibility to bring forth issues 
and viewpoints to the public' s attention. It is at the 
very cornerstone of a democratic system to strive for a 
better informed public and television can make a 
contribution beyond the flow of news by bringing forth 
issues and viewpoints for public discussion and 
decision. 342 

Renick frequently editorialized about editorializing and 

was critical of government interference. In a 1963 

editorial, titled "The Television Editorial," Renick told 


Editorializing on television today has become an 
accepted practice in this nation. 343 

This station and this program were the first to present 
a continuing daily editorial. That was 1,245 
editorials ago on September 2, 1957. Since we started, 
many, many other stations have begun airing their 
opinions on the air. 

The F.C.C. has encouraged this practice. 

Editorializing has varied with each station — but 
although the formula of "how-to-do-it" has differed, we 
don' t think the practice has been terribly abused. We 
think it has been beneficial for the American people to 
have available other avenues of opinion than just 
newspapers and magazines. 

Radio and television editorials have fulfilled an 
important task in stimulating individual thought and 
provoking action and guiding the citizenry. We believe 
the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press 


Ibid., 73. 

This may not have been completely true. See the section 
"State of the Editorial." 


apply to editorials on television as much as to printed 
newspaper editorials. 

We do not censor the press by government control in this 
country and we would fear censorship of television news 
and editorials. Thus we are alarmed by the announcement 
this week that a House Subcommittee in Washington will 
convene hearings on July 15 th to investigate broadcast 
editorializing . 

Many congressmen feel their political futures may be 
endangered by editorials critical of their performances 
or of their political party. 

Many broadcasters today do not editorialize because they 
fear retaliation by those in Washington which might 
affect renewal of their broadcast license. 

Next month' s hearings will provide a further harassment 
of broadcasters and will certainly not encourage the 
furtherance of unfettered, courageous, controversial 
editorializing which is so badly needed in this land. 

Government control, even by inference, over 
editorializing, is simply a form of censorship. 

Censorship is not just a matter between broadcasters and 
the government but it is a matter which vitally affects 

If we have the gag put over our mouths — we both choke 
together. 3 " 4 

Renick was also critical of another form of governmental 

control over broadcasters. Although, he frequently allotted 

time on The Renick Report for opposing views, Renick was 

Ralph Renick editorial, "The Television Editorial," 21 
June 1963. 


opposed to the Fairness Doctrine, calling it 
"unconstitutional." 345 

The role of Wometco, the owner of WTVJ, and its co- 
founder, Mitchell Wolfson, must not be overlooked in this 
research. Wolfson played an important role in the editorial 
successes of WTVJ-TV. As mentioned above, it was Wolfson who 
hired a callow Renick, then promoted him up the ladder of 
news. During the time covered by this dissertation, which is 
from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, Wolfson maintained 
offices for Wometco at WTVJ. He had contact with Renick on 
an almost daily basis. Wolfson' s community participation 
philosophy seems to have been similar to Renick' s. The Miami 
News wrote of Wolfson: 

[ H] is business activities pale next to his round of 
civic work. 


P. Ashdown, "Television and the Editorial Crusade, 78. 
Under Section 315 of the Communications Act, the Fairness 
Doctrine had been instituted by the FCC in 1949. The 
Fairness Doctrine encouraged editorializing, but required 
stations to provide access for opposing views on 
controversial issues. Lawrence W. Lichty and Malachi C. 
Topping, American Broadcasting: A Source Book on the History 
of Radio and Television (New York: Hastings House, 1975), 
531; Erik Barnouw, The Golden Web (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1968), 137; Edd Routt, Dimensions of 
Broadcast Editorializing (Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Tab Books, 
1974), 52; American Enterprise Institute Legislative 
Analyses, Broadcast Deregulation (Washington, DC: American 
Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1985), 15- 
24; Steven J. Simmons, The Fairness Doctrine and the Media 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 16-56. 


He is active, for example, in three Chambers of 
Commerce, a director of the Downtown Miami Business 
Council, a member of the Dade County Citizens Planning 
Board, the Budget Board, the Economic Development 
Council, the Orange Bowl Committee, and Opera Guild. 

And they' re only a few of the civic services that 
earned him an honorary doctor of laws degree at the 
University of Miami in 1955, the Greater Miami Variety 
Club' s Good Samaritan Award in 1954, life membership in 
the Miami Jaycees in 1957, and the title of Miami 
Beach's "outstanding citizen" of 1965. 346 

Wolfson himself best stated his views on the role of a 
television station in the community and the need for TV 
editorials. Wolfson appeared before a House subcommittee in 
1963, six years after Renick had begun nightly editorials on 
WTVJ. These are Wolfson' s statements to the Commission, re- 
ordered by Flannery for contextual flow: 

In every freedom there is an element of risk. We 
must accept the risks if we are to achieve the benefits. 
We must take the risk inherent in unrestricted broadcast 
editorials. If we dare not take that risk, we dare not 
let Americans think for themselves, much less, be 
permitted to think. We will destroy the dialogue which 
began when this nation began. Just as surely, we will 
destroy our nation. 

I do not believe that the American public wants 
"milk and toast" editorials that just consist of 
subjects dealing with motherhood, the Salvation Army' s 
needs and the like. In our free democratic society 
surely the public is entitled to the media' s endorsement 
or criticism of controversial issues, whether some 
special interest group, a newspaper, another 
broadcaster, a political candidate or just plain viewers 
agree or disagree, provided they have an opportunity to 
express an opposite view. 


Forty Years of Service, 1925-1965" Miami News Supplement, 
14 July 1965, 12. 


Dull editorials have destroyed the usefulness of 
many newspapers; they can ruin this medium as well. The 
surest way to dull democracy is to dull the dialogue 
which points it, sharpens it, and gives it thrust and 

Editorials on banal topics are a disservice to 
everyone. Banality would be the inevitable result of 
further control and restriction. 

The nation is seething with issues. On the national 
level there are questions relating to civil rights, 
labor, taxes, agriculture, public health and welfare, 
education, and the role of government. Many of these 
issues filter down to the local scene where, each man 
sees them as issues affecting his community, his way of 
life, his children' s future. 

This nation has a clear choice: to replace thought 
with a vacuum, or to stimulate men to think about where 
they have been, where they would go and how they would 
get there. Free expression stimulates thought. 
Censorship stifles it. 

Favorable responses to our editorials, which have 
now been on the air for some six years in Miami, three 
and one-half years in Asheville and three years in 
Jacksonville [ Wometco owned stations in all three 
markets] , have been overwhelming. The general comment 
is "Keep up your editorials. We need them." We have 
been amazed at the number of people who congratulate us 
upon our editorials — even though they may differ with 
the point of view expressed. 

We try to be fair, impartial and reasonable, but 
also positive, using good taste in our approach to 
community problems. Our public acceptance determines 
not only our integrity and reputation, but our major 
business philosophy that "He who serves best, profits 
most." 347 

In outlining company editorial policy to the same 

committee, Wolfson sounded like a textbook community 

journalist: "It is our policy to editorialize in order to 


Mitchell Wofson, Statement before the Subcommittee on 
Communications and Power of the House Interstate Foreign 
Commerce Committee, 20 September 1963. Flannery, 14-15. 


give public information and receive public support for help 

to our communities in supporting or correcting particularly 

local problems and to provide our viewers with researched 

information which will enable them as voters and taxpayers to 

make constructive decisions to improve their communities." 348 

The Crusades 

For his 1975 dissertation, in distinguishing a 

"campaign" from a "crusade," Ashdown used definitions of the 

terms by A. Gayle Waldrop: 

Crusades are directed against civic evils; they go 
behind facades to get at foundations; they antagonize 
predatory business and political interests; they 
challenge the apathy, irresponsibility and cowardice of 
citizens. They ask such questions as: Are the police 
efficient and honest? Is there graft among public 
officials? . . . Crusades attack and expose, seek to 
destroy practices and conditions — and to depose bosses — 
that make a mockery of democracy. Their goal is to give 
the people more direct and effective control of their 
own affairs. 

By contrast, a "campaign" was defined as: 

[ E] ducational in nature, dealing with desirable 
cultural, governmental, and economic improvements. They 
may be controversial — for few phases of community life, 
social or economic, are not — but often they command 

This is strikingly similar to the quotation from 
Davis Merritt in Chapter 4. Journalists should, said 
Merritt, attempt to "insure that Americans understand the 
true choices they have about issues so they can see 
themselves, their hopes, and their values again reflected ir 
politics." The Wolf son statement is also similar to the 
statements of other community journalists quoted in Chapter 


unanimous Rotary Club cheers. Their objectives may be 
traffic safety, a new high school or city hall or 
library, diversified agriculture, diversified industry, 
city and county zoning, parks, an expanded recreational 
program, a city-manager form of government. 349 

Ashdown identified only two "crusades" in his 
dissertation. 350 One was a group of seventy-three editorials 
that hammered at the problems of crime and governmental 
corruption in Miami. Sixty-five of the seventy-three 
editorials were broadcast on successive nights. The other 
"crusade" involved twelve weeks, one night a week, of 
editorials that focused on unsanitary conditions in 
Miami restaurants. It was a limited definition of "crusade" 
that narrowed the focus. 

If Ashdown had not used Waldrop' s narrow definition, he 

would likely have allowed editorials for civil rights and the 

rights of Cuban refugees. Had he not limited his study to 

the years 1965-1973, he could have included an earlier series 

of editorials against "B-girl strip joints." In fact, in 

laying groundwork for his study, Ashdown later refers to the 

"B girl" editorials as a "crusade," when he quotes Renick: 

We took off after the joints, the B-Girls, stripteasers 
pointing out that teenagers can be seen in pinball 

A. Gayle Waldrop, Editor and Editorial Writer (New York: 
Rinehart and Company, Inc. 1948), 423. 

350 Ashdown, 95. 


arcades, a violation of the law; bookmakers work openly 
along the streets; minors have no difficulty in buying 
liquor in stores or in being sold drinks; perverts 
congregate in certain places; drunks, vagrants and 
derelicts all roam at will. 351 

TV Guide also referred to the B-Girl Editorials as a 


Last September the Federal Bureau of Investigation 
revealed that Miami ranked second to Los Angeles in the 
national crime rate. Miami police officials shrugged 
off the FBI report, blaming the city' s crime on the 
annual influx of vacationers. But WTVJ presented two 
documentaries in an attempt to prove that most of 
Miami's crime could be traced directly to the city's 
honky-tonk districts, specifically the striptease 
joints. Renick sustained the crusade with a series of 
editorials. As a direct result of WTVJ' s campaign, 
Miami's city commission passed three new ordinances, 
including a ban on stripteasing. 352 

The "B-Girl" Editorials 

The striptease editorials were not presented on a 
nightly basis, but they were frequent for a period of several 
years. Renick had not finished with the so-called "honky- 
tonk" business interests in town with his 1959 success, 
described above. In early 1960, after giving a strip-club 
owner time for an editorial reply, Renick crticized a Miami 

Ralph Renick statement to the FCC, Washington, DC, Docket 
number 12782 (15 December 1959). 

"Television Raises Its Voice," TV Guide, 23 April 1960, 5. 


City Commission vote to water down a striptease ordinance. 
Renick kept up the pressure in an editorial on 29 January 
1960, reporting that the WTVJ FY I special in September 1959 
had brought further charges of gambling and indecent 
performances at the Gaiety Club on Biscayne Boulevard. 354 

The heat continued in February and March. Renick 
editorialized on strip club customers' use of credit cards. 
The clubs, said Renick, were allowing patrons to run up big 
credit card bills. Renick warned that the credit card 
companies were getting so many complaints they might pull out 
of business arrangements with the clubs. 355 One week later, 
Renick' s editorial included Police Chief Walter Headley' s 
comments on the "hundreds" of arrests for violations of the 
liquor laws in the clubs. In this editorial, Renick tied the 
continuing crackdown on the clubs to WTVJ specials on honky 
tonk establishments in 1959. 356 

353 Ralph Renick, "Striptease Ordinance Stripped," The Ralph 
Renick Report, 20 January 1960. 

354 Ralph Renick, "Honky Tonk Crackdown Continues, Ralph 
Renick Report, 29 January 1960. 

355 Ralph Renick, "B-Girl Joints Like 'Charge-It' Business," 
Ralph Renick Report, 5 February 1960. 

356 Ralph Renick, "Police Chief Headley Comments on Honky-Tonk 
Cleanup Campaign, Ralph Renick Report, 9 February 1960. 


The Gaiety Club, the Suburban Club, the Club Paree, the 
French Casino, Cuban Village, and others were all ordered to 
appear before the city commission in March 1960 to explain 
their ownership. Renick related in an editorial that profits 
were being made by selling club licenses to criminals who 
could not have obtained them if they had been the original 
applicants. In the editorial, Mayor Robert King High 
appeared on film to make the announcement of the crackdown. 
In July 1960 Renick would again turn his attention to 
strip joints. Renick approvingly told his viewers forty 
agents of the State Beverage Commission, working with the 
Greater Miami Crime Commission, had raided several strip 
joints, charging owners with liquor violations. The intent 
was to use the charges to take away the clubs' liquor 
licenses. 358 After this editorial, Renick moved on, 
mentioning the topic only a few more times. Much of his 
editorial light would now be shone on the problems of crime 
in Miami, on the Cuban crisis, on civil rights, and, for 
several weeks, on unsanitary restaurants. 

357 Ralph Renick, "The Heat' s Really On for Strip- Joint 
Owners," Ralph Renick Report, 11 March 1960. 

358 Ralph Renick, "Honky Tonk Crackdown Continues," 22 July 


The Restaurant Crusade 

Although the dates of this campaign fall outside the 
1960s period of investigation for the other two editorialists 
examined in this dissertation, it is included here, as is 
some of the 1950s work of Ralph Renick, because it is 
illustrative of his editorial approach. Because Renick 
editorialized earlier, longer, and later than the other two 
primary subjects of this work, it would be an oversight to 
limit examination of his editorials to the 1960s alone. 

Another crusade, "Not on the Menu," began in March 1973. 
The crusade consisted of nightly news reports for twelve 
weeks, five nights a week at six and eleven o' clock and 
included once a week editorials. A WTVJ reporter and 
cameraman accompanied Dade County Health Department 
inspectors as they made routine inspections of Miami 
restaurants. Not all restaurant owners were cooperative; 
some refused the camera crew entry. In those instances, the 
reporter interviewed health inspectors after they had 
examined conditions inside the restaurants. 359 

The first report centered on a Lincoln Road mall 
cafeteria in Miami Beach. Inspectors had found stagnant 
water, filthy floors and equipment, and both dead and live 

Ashdown, 122. 


mice. Renick editorialized that because health officials 

could issue citations, but were powerless to clean up 

restaurants, public exposure (on WTVJ) was the way to force 

restaurants to correct sanitation and health problems. 360 Two 

weeks later, Renick editorialized that much of what had been 

found in Miami area restaurants was filth. He also revealed 

that the Florida Restaurant Association had told its members 

not to allow TV cameras into their restaurants and not to 

talk to the press. Renick interpreted the reaction as an 

indication his crusade was working: 

The defensive response by the Restaurant Association is 
one more indication that behind many restaurant kitchen 
doors there is indeed something to hide. . . . The 
series is producing positive results. Health inspectors 
say that suddenly they have gained cooperation from 
restaurants in voluntarily bringing their premises up to 
standards. 361 

In the third week of the restaurant campaign, Renick 

noted there had been some cancellations of advertising as a 

result of the series of reports and editorials. Renick 

devoted one editorial segment to letters from viewers. Most 

of them were complimentary, but one viewer said: 

There can be no argument against cleaning up kitchens of 
dining places, but it' s the manner you people went about 
it. If I were one of your victims, I would have broken 

Ralph Renick, "The Reason Why," 28 March 1973. 

Ralph Renick, "Beyond the Kitchen Door," 6 April 1973. 


your camera even if I went to jail for it. Some of 
those owners have worked hard to get where they are and 
have a large investment. In football language, what you 
are doing is a cheap shot. May the prosperity of your 
business be just a bit in the red. 362 

There was additional reaction to the Renick restaurant 

editorials. John D. Eckhoff of the Dade County Department of 

Public Health told the Miami News it was now clear some 

restaurants in Dade County were re-serving food that had been 

left on diners' plates. 363 That, too, was meat for a Renick 


As we enter the fourth week of our series "Not On The 
Menu," we are convinced that there "ought to be a law." 
... We are told that some restaurants have repeatedly 
been in violation of the same provisions of the State 
Sanitary Code for years . . . they have been warned and 
issued citations for violations...but have simply not 
responded to the Health Department inspectors. The 
reason is simple. The inspectors have no club in their 
closet. They cannot close a restaurant which refuses to 
comply with standards. ... If the danger to public 
health is pronounced and where the restaurant does not 
take necessary steps to comply with regulations for the 
protection of the customers' health— then the doors of 
the establishment should be closed. . . . Let Dade 
County government set the pace and authorize a 
"Restaurant Standards Act" with penalties for non- 
compliance. 364 

3 62 

Ralph Renick, "Viewers Speak on Channel Four' s Restaurant 
Series," 12 April 1973. 

' 3 Alex Ben Block, "Taking Notice," Miami News, 13 April 
1973, 15. F 


Ralph Renick, "There Ought To Be A Law," 16 April 1973. 


Four days later, Renick was able to report that a county 

commissioner would soon introduce new standards for Miami 

area restaurants, and on 24 April the Miami Beach Taxpayers' 

Association passed a resolution thanking Renick for his 

restaurant crusade. 365 

On 9 May, Restaurant Association members met in Miami 

with the intent of taking steps to improve the image of the 

restaurant industry. Renick noted in an editorial that night 

it was about time: 

We have thought all along that such a trade group would 
perform a better service to its members if it emphasized 
the positive ... in other words . . . tell its members 
to get with it ... to clean up ... to meet health 
standards. It' s taken seven weeks . . . but at last the 
message is getting through. 366 

The restaurateurs' meeting had not been called because 

the message of the editorials was getting through. It had 

been called to blame the editorials for falling receipts. 

Miami News reporter Al Volker wrote that the meeting centered 

mainly on criticism of WTVJ and reporter Bob Mayer, who had 

been the reporter assigned to most of the restaurant 

coverage. Mayer had even been invited to speak to the group, 

which he did. He was not well received. The meeting was also 

365 Ashdown, 125. 

Ralph Renick "The Message Finally Gets Through," 9 May 


covered by the Miami Herald. 367 Renick responded in an 

editorial the next night: 

The meeting degenerated into a name-calling session. 
This reporter and correspondent Bob Mayer were accused 
of "irresponsible reporting." Other derogatory remarks 
were made against us and WTVJ. We choose not to respond 
in kind. ... We have repeatedly made available to Mr. 
Robinson the opportunity to have his say on this 
program. He has refused or made impossible demands. 368 

The editorials were not only having an effect on 
business, they were being noticed by people in a position to 
force changes. As the squabbles between restaurant owners 
and the WTVJ crusaders went on, a Miami city commissioner 
proposed an ordinance to give the city' s health department 
powers to shut down a restaurant found to be serving food 
from a dirty kitchen. 369 

As the restaurant crusade neared its successful end, 

John D. Eckhoff of the Dade County Department of Public 

Health wrote WTVJ: 

Eight weeks ago when the Ralph Renick Report introduced 
the news feature "Not On The Menu," we expected a flurry 
of public interest that would soon vanish. However, 

Al Volker, "Restaurateurs: Publicity hurts," Miami News, 
15 May 1973, 1A. Darrell Eiland, "Restaurant Business 
Slumps," Miami Herald, 15 May 1973, 2B. 

368 Ralph Renick, "The Restaurant Men Who Can' t Stand the 
Heat — Should Stay in Their Kitchens," 16 May 1973. 

Sam Jacobs, "Goldberg Would Strengthen Law on Dirty 
Restaurants," Miami Herald, 12 May 1973, 2B. 


just the opposite has been true. Many citizens have 
continued to write and call in support of our efforts, 
as highlighted by this program, to upgrade sanitation in 
restaurants failing to meet required standards. In our 
opinion this series has been of outstanding value to the 
community for it has not been spawned from a desire for 
sensationalism but is a product of sound factual 
reporting. It has taken courage and integrity to 
publicly tell this story which was offensive at times to 
select advertisers. 

It is our pleasure to acknowledge this support that 
Channel 4 has rallied from the public, government and 
many in the restaurant industry, to aid us in resolving 
a vital public health problem. 370 

There were also kudos for the WTVJ restaurant editorials 

from the Florida State Senate, the Dade County Board of 

Commissioners, and two Miami radio stations, but resentment 

among some Miami restaurateurs continued. 371 Renick 

acknowledged WTVJ 7 s satisfaction with a new restaurant 

ordinance passed by the Metro Commission but lamented that at 

least one hotel had become a dangerous place for WTVJ 


[ T] he sweetness of that reward [ the new restaurant 
ordinance] was marred by the irrational act of a hotel 
official who decided to resort to violence against our 
correspondent Bob Mayer and cameraman Warren Jones. 
Such an act cannot go unheeded. Charges of assault and 
battery have been filed. . . . Obviously there is still 
some serious misunderstanding about what we are trying 


Correspondence from John D. Eckhoff to WTVJ, quoted in 
Ashdown, 128. 

371 Ashdown, 128. 


to accomplish with this type of reporting. It has 
simply been to expose a problem. 372 

One of the factors Mayer remembered best about the 
restaurant crusade was support from WTVJ management. Mayer 
told Renick in correspondence that, despite almost daily 
threats from the restaurant industry of advertising losses 
and lawsuits, neither the sales department nor the legal 
department had wavered. Despite great pressures, the word on 
restaurant reporting had never been anything but "go 
ahead." 373 

WTVJ' s advertising department seized the opportunity to 

praise the station' s news department when it placed an 

advertisement in the August 1973 issue of Broadcasting. 

It was a well-kept secret. Many Miami restaurants had 
unsanitary kitchens. Some kitchens even had bugs (the 
old fashioned-kind) . Miami' s health department was 
stymied. There was no law on the books giving them the 
authority to close dirty restaurants. 

Then on the night of March 26 we turned on the heat. On 
our 6 p.m. Ralph Renick Report, the #1 news program in 
the Miami market, we ran a report called "Not on the 
Menu." It was the first of a series of filmed reports 
showing actual unsanitary kitchens. Other reports and 
other kitchens followed. Night after night, for 3 
months, on both our 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news reports. 
"There out to be a law," we said. Others joined the 
fight. Others joined the fight. Local government sat 
up and took notice. Civic leaders spoke out. The guy 


Ralph Renick, "An Unfortunate Misunderstanding," 8 June 

373 Ashdown, 130. 


in the street got teed off. And we were swamped with 
approving letters from the whole community. 
Finally, on June 5, a tough sanitation law was passed 
giving health inspectors the authority to close 
restaurants having dangerous sanitary violations. 
Sure, we caught some flack along the way, especially 
since ours is a resort community. But we figure if 
you' re the number one station in the community you 
should have broad shoulders. 374 

A separate story in the same issue of Broadcasting noted that 

WTVJ' s investigators had been given credit for cleaning up 

Miami area restaurants when regular restaurant inspectors 

When it was over, the WTVJ restaurant crusade had 
resulted in the closings of 180 eating places for sanitary 
violations. 376 
The Cri me Crusade 

Crime filled Renick' s editorial time more than any other 
topic. Both Ashdown and Flannery state that, with the 
exception of only two years, crime was the most often visited 
subject. 377 The crime crusade began in 1959. Renick was to 

374 "Miami' s Restaurants Were Bugged Until We Blew the 
Whistle," Broadcasting, 20 August 1973, 42. 

375 Ibid., 44. 

376 Richard K. Doan, "When Making Ends Meet Is Such a 
Problem," TV Guide, 22-28 March 1975, 6. 

11 Ashdown, "Editorial Crusade," 93; Flannery, "A Case 
Study," 37. 


say in a 1966 editorial that 1959 was when he and his staff 

had begun researching crime in the area in anticipation of 

one day beginning an all-out editorial assault on the 

problem. 318 By mid 1967, the Renick crime editorials were 

being noticed. As Paul Einstein wrote in Quill: 

Constant editorial pounding...surveillance film taken by 
hidden cameras and special crime documentaries, even 
live interviews with rackets figures — every weapon in 
the arsenal of television news was brought to bear in 
the station' s hard-hitting, no-holds-barred campaign 
against organized crime. 379 

Renick was picking up a campaign begun by reporter Hank 

Messick of the Miami Herald. Messick had reported on charges 

that Sheriff Talmadge Buchanan had accepted an illegal 

$25,000 campaign contribution, then lied about it under oath. 

Buchanan had been acquitted on the charges, but Messick had 

continued to report, using information from chief prosecution 

witness in the case, Roy 0' Nan. When the Herald backed off 

because of fear of libel suits, Renick, with a longstanding 

interest in the subject of crime in Miami, was willing to 

pick up the story. Renick used information from Messick as 

well as from O'Nan. 380 It was 0' Nan who would provide the 

378 Ralph Renick, "Act Now or Surrender," 13 September 1966. 

Paul Einstein, "Camera on Corruption," The Quill, May 
1967, 12. 


bulk of Renick' s information for the story. 381 Messick would 
write later: 

The campaign entered a new phase. . . . Ralph Renick 
. . . took up the slack. A tall, handsome television 
pioneer, Renick had taken a few swings at conditions 
over the years and was ready to try again. . . . Waiting 
and eager to help was that nationally known bagman, Roy 
0' Nan . 

Apparently a little unsure of how far to trust Roy, 
Renick asked my aid. The Herald's attorneys had just 
rejected a news series I had prepared. I was annoyed. 
Television would give me a chance to bring the material 
to the public and, at the same time, prove how baseless 
were the attorney's fears. I agreed to appear in person 
with my new evidence. 

The thirty-minute special starring Messick and 0' Nan 
had tremendous impact. It also had unexpected 
consequences. Suddenly I was a celebrity. After 
writing scores of articles for months, it was rather 
humbling to become famous after one TV exposure. 382 

Messick was reluctant to take advantage of his 

celebrity status. He was getting requests to appear on 

radio, as well as TV, and had little time to dig up new 

information. The Herald, however, was showing no enthusiasm 

for Messick 7 s investigation. He decided, "Things needed 

saying. If I couldn' t write them, I would speak them." He 

would speak them with Renick' s help. "Renick, meanwhile, 

kept up the pressure. Waving the banner the Herald had 

381 Ironically, 21 years earlier, 0' Nan had hired Renick to 
work in his drugstore. 

382 Hank Messick, Syndicate in the Sun (New York: McMillan, 
1968), 219. 


dropped, he nightly presented shocking facts topped with 

lucid hard-hitting editorials." 383 

With Renick' s help, Messick and 0' Nan revealed a web of 

crime in Miami involving city and county officials. Messick 

complained he had written "perhaps a hundred stories in the 

Miami Herald" spotlighting crime in the area, yet no one had 

become indignant, no one had done anything about it. He 

called the crime situation in the area a "swamp" and a 

"morass." He charged there was an attempt to intentionally 

block reform, to maintain the status quo. 384 

As the program concluded, Renick commented: 

People who hold honest jobs . . . and who worry about 
things like paying the mortgage and buying shoes for the 
children . . . are easily fooled by corrupt officials. 
The unsophisticated average citizen thinks of a criminal 
as a hoodlum character with a gun who hides in the 
shadows . 

He finds it impossible to believe that the man wearing a 
badge or holding a high public office can be just as 
dishonest as a racketeer. This naive attitude on the 
part of many serves to protect the lawbreaker who hides 
behind the shield of decency. In Dade County ... as 
in other areas across the nation...the bribe is fast 
replacing the bullet as the ultimate criminal weapon. 
. . . There are those . . . even in the local news media 
who are gullible enough to believe that corruption in 
Dade County is not as widespread as 0' Nan says it is. 385 

J8J Ibid., 220. 

384 WTVJ-TV, "The Price of Corruption," 6 September 1966. 

385 Ibid. 


The Renick crime crusades drew criticism, even from 

within the ranks of local broadcasters. WCKT-TV s main 

anchor, Wayne Farris, accused Renick of paying 0' Nan for 

0' Nan' s participation in the Renick programs. Renick denied 

it. 386 Jack Roberts wrote in the Miami News: 

The electronic boys are madder than the dickens because 
Channel Four 7 s Ralph Renick has scooped them by putting 
0' Nan on TV. Channel Seven' s Wayne Farris responded 
with a slashing attack on 0' Nan, the implication being 
that his competitor, Renick, had performed a public 
disservice by putting the bagman on the air. Channel 
Ten [ WPLG] keeps coming up with little editorials which 
attack "a local television station" using words such as 
"ludicrous" and calling for a blue ribbon grand jury, 
whatever that might be. 387 

In Syndicate in the Sun, Messick recalled that both he 
and Renick had come under fire from other broadcasters who 
attempted to denigrate the Renick effort by taking Buchanan' s 

Rival TV commentators began to scream — and to fire back 
with pro-Buchanan editorials. Even the late night radio 
"talk" shows got into the battle. Most were anti- 
Messick, anti-Renick. Buchanan was live on one or the 
other almost every night. . . . [ A] nti-Renick television 
announcers gave him free space. In public speeches he 
assailed Messick first and Renick second. It was all a 
communist conspiracy, he repeated, designed to deprive 
the little man of his right to vote. 388 

386 Ashdown, 112. 

,7 Jack Roberts, "The Carpers," Miami News, 16 September 
1966, 3A. 

388 Messick, Syndicate, 220-224. 


In November 1966, Renick included in his nightly 

editorial the contents of an article in a police publication 

by Executive Assistant to the Dade Sheriff L.M. McNutt. 

McNutt was clearly unhappy with the Renick anticrime crusade: 

For the past twenty years an illegitimate group has 
grown up in our midst. Many of these people speak 
sedition with every word. They appear bent on 
usurpation of power and control of all our government 
offices. The power is in the hands of a ruthless group 
with ambitious desires, who are vindictive in nature and 
through their evil genius they have managed the press, 
which in its blind obedience has slanted its news to 
satisfy the group' s interests. They have prefabricated 
a corrupt police situation that does not exist. The 
police are constantly being held up to scorn by those 
who would like to see this nation fall. Those who wish 
the police ill — many of whom are native Dade Countians — 
have polished editors and television orators who 
constantly attack the honor and integrity of the police. 
The problem of enlightening the public is great — not 
because the people are unable to understand, but because 
of the difficulty of reaching them in time with the true 
story because of the thought controlling machine of this 
force, TV, Radio, press. 389 

Renick then commented that McNutt did a disservice to other 

police officers who had a more reasoned approach to WTVJ' s 

comments on crime in Miami. 

Perhaps unintentionally, Renick had an effect on the 

1966 governor's race in Florida. Miami Mayor Robert King 

High was the Democratic candidate, running against Republican 

389 Ralph Renick, "What Are You Saying, Chief McNutt?," 17 
November 1966. 

3 so 



Claude Kirk. By association, the Miami mayor had taken much 
of the heat of the WTVJ anticrime crusade. Kirk commented 
during the campaign that he would, as governor, call High to 
Tallahassee to order him to clean up the state' s largest 
city. Four days before the election, indictments were handed 
down against Sheriff Buchanan and an alleged bagman on 
charges of conspiring to commit bribery, burglary, and grand 
larceny charges against the head of the police division, 
prostitution charges against two police sergeants, and 
perjury charges against a Miami constable. The grand jury 
reported it had found even more corruption than was indicated 
in the reports that brought about the investigation. Claude 
Kirk won the election. His first official meeting was with 
Renick to talk about crime. 391 

There was no clear indication that the Renick anticrime 
crusade had contributed to a diminution of crime in the Miami 
area. Hank Messick, who was subsequently hired to head a 
private agency to act against the "criminal element" as part 
of Governor Kirk' s "War on Crime," quit, saying a "cruel hoax 
[ the Kirk anticrime war] is being perpetrated on the people 
of Florida." 392 A review in the New York Times of Messick' s 

Ashdown, 117-118. 

392 Renick, "What Is the Hoax?," 16 February 1967. 


book on Miami crime painted a picture of continuing troubles 

in Miami, even after the Renick editorial crusade: 

Perhaps the most significant thing in the new work is 
the concise delineation of how entrenched racketeering 
has flourished because of public indifference to 
official corruption and how, after the public became 
aroused at last, reform became a political football that 
seems, even today, to be missing what should be the 
legitimate goal posts of genuine reform. 39 

Renick and Civil Rights 

There has been little written on the Renick civil rights 

editorials, but examination of the files at the Wolfson Media 

Center in the Miami Dade Public Library shows the subject was 

visited frequently. It has already been noted above that 

Renick helped settle a civil rights dispute in Delray Beach 

in 1956, and when the WTVJ anchorman started editorializing, 

civil rights was among his early topics, a fact noted in the 

Miami News: 

Two weeks ago we noted that Ralph Renick . . . had 
instituted a brief editorial at the tail end of his 
nightly news show. We commended Ralph' s motives, but 
doubted his courage to speak out on controversial 
issues. But we were stunned — and delighted — last Monday 
when Ralph came face to face with the segregation issue 
and decided not to duck. 394 

393 Charles Gruzner, "End Papers," New York Times, 13 April 
1968, 23. 

394 The Te i ev i s j_ on Editorial, booklet published by WTVJ-TV, 
March 1958. 


The decision "not to duck" came despite Renick' s own 

reluctance to declare himself a civil rights campaigner. 

Writing in the Miami News less than two weeks before the News 

lauded Renick for his stand on the segregation issue, Arthur 

Grace noted that Renick had begun delivering editorials 

somewhat cautiously: 

While personal comment on television may not be 
unique, it is rare. The industry lives in unholy terror 
that it might one day offend a viewer. . . . Renick is 
very much aware of the influence he can wield in this 
community. He did not take this step lightly. The 
management of the station wanted him to start a daily 
editorial two months ago; he insisted on waiting until 
he was absolutely certain of his ground. 395 

Renick, quoted in the same article, did not appear to be so 

"sure of his ground." He was still formulating his editorial 

policies : 

"When it comes to controversy, I just don' t know," 
he said. "That' s an unanswerable question right now. I 
do know that I'm not going to back political candidates. 
I'm certainly not going to jeopardize everything we've 
built up over the past eight years by going off half- 
cocked. . . . I' m not going to start putting Renick on 
the screen as a controversial figure," he continued. 
"I've been at this job for eight years and I feel I have 
certain qualifications for editorializing. . . . Many 
people live in a vacuum when it comes to forming 
opinions. I have the chance to jump in and help them 
make up their minds. It is not a responsibility to be 
taken lightly." 396 


Arthur Grace, "Renick Takes A big Step Without Any 

Controversy," Miami News, 9 September 1957, 12A. 
396 Ibid. 


Grace finished his article, commenting, "It will be 

interesting to see how Ralph bears up under this great 

burden." 397 

It took several months, but Renick' s civil rights 

editorializing was also commended in the New York Herald 


I saw a kinescope of one such editorial severely 
criticizing a southern judge for meting out a life 
sentence to a Negro who had choked and robbed a white 
woman. "Dark Ages of the South," declared Mr. Renick in 
his editorial. "Frontier Justice" — again strong words 
for the South. 398 

Just as another of the journalists featured in this work 

was doing in the 1960s, Renick frequently aimed his editorial 

ire at hate groups. 399 After swastikas were painted on 

synagogues in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami, Renick said: 

Who committed these outrages is not known. Most 
likely their identities will never be known, for people 
of this stripe are sneaks and cowards — they do their 
filthy deeds fitfully and under the protective cloak of 

Governor Collins today reflected the sentiments of 
the people of this state when he called the incidents 
"despicable." But even this description does not do 
justice to the kind of demented hatred and twisted 
sickness which would desecrate houses of worship and 

"' Ibid. 

John Crosby, "TV Stations with Opinions," New York Herald 
Tribune, 9 March 1958, Sec. 4, 1, cited in Ashdown, 66. 

Joe Brechner' s editorials on Orlando television station 
WFTV-TV will be examined in later pages. 


smear the most contemptible hatred imaginable with a 
paintbrush. Law enforcement agencies should show no 
quarter in flushing out and bringing to justice those 
responsible. In these cases it is the whole of society 
which is threatened and disgraced — not just one race or 
religion. 400 


Although usually concerned with Miami matters, Renick 

occasionally turned his attention to other Florida cities. 

When racial violence hit Jacksonville in 1960, Renick called 

for action to create a bi-racial committee similar to 

Miami' s : 

In many southern cities, including Miami, the threat 
of violence was diminished when leaders made up their 
minds to face the problem realistically and in good 

Bi-racial committees have helped. . . . 

Mayor Burns of Jacksonville, despite the pleas of 
business interests and the city" s Ministerial Alliance, 
persistently refuses to form a bi-racial committee. He 
says such committees "invariably result in decisions to 

The mayor, in a way, is abdicating decision making 
to angry mobs . 

Unless the political and community leaders of any 
city open the way for communication between responsible 
members of both races, the problem will continue to 
simmer like a volcano, ready to erupt in violence with 
little provocation. 401 

January 1960. 

'No Encouragement for Swastika Crackpots," 7 

v Bi-Racial Committees Can Help Prevent Mob 
Warfare," 30 August 1960. Renick' s motivation for 
editorializing about Jacksonville and other cities outside 
the Miami area was apparently similar to the motivation of 
Joe Brechner (discussed further in a later chapter) , who used 
reports of racial strife in other cities as a means to warn 


The incident that had motivated Renick to editorialize 
on another Florida city occurred on 27 August 1960 when 
clashes broke out between blacks and whites after ten days of 
sit-ins at two downtown Jacksonville stores. A hair-pulling 
scuffle between a black woman and a white woman on the 26 
August was the apparent spark that touched off the escalated 
violence of the twenty-seventh. Bands of blacks and whites 
roamed the streets of the city, looking for trouble. A crowd 
of three thousand had to be broken up by police armed with 
shotguns. Fifty people were reported injured and more than 
one hundred arrested. 402 

Renick' s warning that, without attempts at a bi-racial 
solution, "the problem will continue to simmer like a 
volcano, ready to erupt in violence with little provocation" 
was valid. On 23 March 1964, racial trouble broke out again 
in Jacksonville, this time with more tragic result. There 
had been two weeks of restaurant and hotel sit-ins. Police 
moved in to break up a demonstration of blacks in a 

that, unless steps were taken to improve race relations, the 
same kind of trouble hitting other cities could develop close 
to home. Renick was also accustomed to commenting on topics 
outside the Miami area, even including some editorials on 
international affairs. 

402 Lester A. Sobel, ed., Civil Rights 1960-66 (New York: 
Facts on File, Inc., 1967), 18. 


Jacksonville park. A black housewife was killed by shots 
fired from a passing car. Two days of violence followed, 
during which at least 465 people were arrested. 403 Renick was 
ready to comment again as an observer from South Florida: 

Jacksonville and its elected officials have been 
anything but enthusiastic over recognizing the need for 
any improvement in the field of race relations. 

Finally, the bi-racial committee, frustrated in its 
efforts to achieve meaningful communication between city 
officials and the Negro community disbanded a month ago. 

Meanwhile the Ku Klux Klan has remained active — 
holding weekly meetings; the home of a Negro child 
attending an all — white school was dynamited. 404 

Renick then noted that Jacksonville Mayor Haydon Burns had 

deputized almost five hundred firemen, raising to nearly one 

thousand the number of officers ready to enforce the racial 

status quo. 

Florida has made some progress in race relations. 
But in Miami lines of communications have remained open 
between Negro and White leadership. Miami has had no 
violence — Miami is moving peacefully ahead at the 
moment — the Negro' s main complaint is the slowness of 
the pace. 

But in Jacksonville, the Negro has been told, in 
effect, "Stay in your place." 405 

The trouble was quieted only when Mayor Burns formed the bi- 
racial committee Renick had called for four years earlier. 406 

404 Ralph Renick, "Jacksonville Race Riots Gives Florida 
Black-Eye," 24 March 1964. 

405 Ibid. 


The following night, in another editorial, Renick 
attempted to use the Jacksonville troubles as an illustration 
of how civil rights difficulties should not be approached in 
Miami . 

We haven' t regarded the actions of Jacksonville city 
officials as commendable, nor do we see any excuse for 
the violence committed by Negroes in that city. What we 
are saying is that both sides have erred. 

If the Negro thinks his progress is too slow, then 
he must work harder to bring it about — but in peace. 

And, if the Whites think they can ignore or put off 
the Negro' s demands for equality, then we are headed for 
more trouble. 407 

St. Augustine 

"Three-hundred miles up the coast" from Miami, St. 

Augustine was also the scene of racial troubles in the 1960s. 

The problems were more severe in St. Augustine than in some 

Florida cities for several reasons. Among the reasons: local 

officials refused to negotiate with black representatives; 

the activities of local black dentist and civil rights 

activist Dr. Robert Hayling; the refusal of local authorities 

to interfere with Klan elements and other segregationist 

groups; and Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian 

Sobel, 252-253. An earlier bi-racial committee had 
disbanded because of frustration over its inability to 
establish a dialogue between blacks and whites. 

Ralph Renick, "A Lesson to be Learned from Jacksonville,' 
25 March 1964. 


Leaderships Conference's campaign in St. Augustine that drew 
national press coverage. 408 

One of the reasons the national press was interested in 
what was happening in St. Augustine was the participation of 
Mary Peabody, the mother of Massachusetts Governor Endicott 
Peabody, Jr. Mrs. Peabody and a racially mixed group 
employed a common Southern Christian Leadership Conference 
strategy when they asked to be served lunch at a whites-only 
restaurant, knowing they would be arrested. Mary Peabody was 
taken to the Duval County Jail, where she held a news 
conference before spending the night. More than one hundred 
other civil rights protesters had also been arrested in 
similar and simultaneous restaurant sit-ins. The tactic had 
worked. Mrs. Peabody was on the nightly network news 
programs, as well as the local newscasts. Robert Hartley 
wrote, "The curtain was now ready to open on one of the 
longest and bloodiest civil rights campaigns of the early 
1960s. 409 

Mary Peabody flew home to Massachusetts on 3 April, 
ending the St. Augustine Easter campaign, but the St. 

4 OB 

Robert W. Hartley "Don't Tread on Grandmother Peabody," in 
St. Augustine, Fl., 1963-1964, David J. Garrow, ed. 
(Brooklyn, 1989), 27-39. 

-Ki 9 

Ibid., 39. 


Augustine civil rights story was far from over. Plans were 
already underway for the summer' s activities in St. 
Augustine. The SCLC and other civil rights workers would 
soon be met with violence in St. Augustine again — and the 
rest of the state would be watching as events unfolded in St. 
Augustine's "long, hot summer." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 
opened the summer campaign officially on 26 May. King 
acknowledged that a long, hot summer was on the way, but he 
vowed it would be a nonviolent one. 410 The power structure in 
St. Augustine was not willing to negotiate. 

Civil rights activity and racial conflict increased in 
the old city. Demonstrators were arrested in lunch counter 
sit-ins. A march on 27 May, involving hundreds of 
demonstrators and organized by the SCLC, ended at St. 
Augustine' s Slave Market when whites, armed with ax handles, 
chains, clubs, and bricks waded into the marchers and members 
of the press covering the event. 411 Battle lines drawn 
earlier were becoming more distinct. Police officers stepped 
up the number of arrests of demonstrators. Jail conditions 
became deplorable because of overcrowding. The SCLC called in 

"Race Protest Start Vowed in St. Johns," Florida Times- 
Union, 27 May 1964, 29. 


lawyers William Kunstler and Tobias Simon to help fight 
injunctions against marches. The northern press sent more 
reporters and cameras, drawn by the presence of Dr. King. 
Civil rights groups sent more demonstrators to join the 

Martin Luther King, Jr., was in and out of town during 
late May and early June. On one visit, he renewed his call 
for "enough accord to make further street demonstrations 
unnecessary." He asked that hotel and restaurant facilities 
be desegregated within thirty days; that the city hire Negro 
employees, including police officers and firefighters; that a 
bi-racial committee be set up to settle civil rights 
problems; that charges be dropped against the demonstrators; 
and that job applications from Negroes be judged, not on 
race, but on merit. 412 St. Augustine' s white power structure 
ignored King. 

Events began to unfold with increasing frequency. On 10 
June 1964, violence broke out again as armed whites attacked 
marchers in Constitution Plaza. The white thugs singled out 
white marchers for particularly vicious beatings. On 11 
June, Dr. King was arrested for refusing to leave the 

"Dr. King 1 s Plea Moves Seventeen Rabbis to Join St. 
Augustine Protest," The New York Times, 18 June 1964, 5. 


restaurant at the Monson Motor Lodge. 413 The St. Augustine 
sit-ins moved to the city' s churches, where more 
demonstrators were arrested. On 17 June, the action moved to 
St. Augustine Beach. Although public facilities were 
integrated by law, there was no such integration in fact. 
There was no violence, but about a dozen whites left the 
beach. Civil rights demonstrators moved back to the Monson 
Motor Lodge the next day, diving into the swimming pool 
there. Motor lodge owner Jimmy Brock poured two gallons of 
muriatic acid into the pool and an off-duty police officer 
beat the demonstrators until they left. 414 

Ralph Renick, concerned about the racial climate in his 
own city during the summer of 1964, had not mentioned the 
civil rights problems of the state' s oldest city, but on 19 
June, Renick broke his silence, saying: 

What happens in St. Augustine is reflective on the 
entire state of Florida. . . . Miami and other sections 
have had an enlightened attitude toward improving race 
relations. Despite this, however, these cities may very 
well suffer because of the troubles in one city 300 
miles up the coast. 

The unfortunate part of St. Augustine' s problem is 
the reluctance to reach any sort of compromise. Martin 
Luther King and his demonstrators have adamantly 
continued their publicity-inspired efforts to put the 

William Robert Miller, Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: 
Avon Books, 1968), 201, cited in Garrow, 53. 


spotlight on St. Augustine. King's success has been due 
to the unbending attitude of the 011/ s leadership to 
communicate with the Negro community. 

A crack in the dike appeared earlier in the week 
when the Grand Jury of St. John' s County recommended a 
30-day cooling off period, after which a bi-racial 
committee would be set up. King today came back with a 
counter-peace proposal to call off demonstrations for 
one week if the Grand Jury, which went into recess 
yesterday, would reconvene and to work immediately a bi- 
racial committee. 

The Jury foreman responded by saying the Jury would 
not be intimidated nor would it negotiate nor would it 
change its mind. 

Responsibility would appear the key word in the 

The lack of leadership in the past has provoked the 
present crisis which can only be solved by an awakened 
leadership which recognizes the rights of all — black and 
white. 415 

The crisis in St. Augustine continued, with nightly 

marches to the Slave Market, continued attempts by blacks to 

integrate beaches with so-called "swim-ins," and frequent and 

severe beatings of the nonviolent demonstrators. On the 

night of 25 June, a crowd of several hundred whites attacked 

black and white civil rights marchers in the Slave Market. A 

contingent of two hundred police made a futile attempt to 

protect the marchers but gave up in the face of overwhelming 

numbers and raw, racist hatred. Demonstrators and reporters 

were beaten. Nineteen demonstrators were hospitalized, and 

many more injured less seriously. Anti-integrationists, 

Ralph Renick, Florida' s Oldest City Bucking Oldest 
Problem," 19 June 1964. 


particularly angered by attempts by blacks to use St. 
Augustine beaches, promised more confrontations. 416 

The 25 June incidents exhausted both sides. As an 
apparent result, although swim-ins continued, there was an 
undeclared moratorium in extreme, massive violence. The 
Civil Rights Act passed the U.S. Senate on 17 June. It was a 
foregone conclusion that President Johnson would sign the 
measure. 417 Renick was ready to comment again on events in 
northern Florida: 

All of the good works and the sincere efforts of 
painstaking negotiations that have made Florida a leader 
in responsible progress in race relations are dashed 
with every report of violence and new beatings coming 
out of St. Augustine. The overtones are all the more 
serious because our Governor has personally taken charge 
and created a combined state and local police force 
under one command - yet violence goes on. . . . This 
state is made to look ridiculous when couple of middle- 
aged women, incensed over the wade-ins, can easily break 
through lines of highway patrolmen and deputies to beat 
on a demonstrator. 

We cannot believe that police cannot preserve law 
and order and must wonder just how sincere are their 
efforts to prevent violence. 

Newsmen covering the city call St. Augustine the 
most explosive, violence-prone city the/ ve ever covered 
in the south and that takes in a lot of violence and a 
lot of territory. 

Are all of Florida' s good works and hopes of years 
to be forgotten because of a collection of hooligans who 
attack people they know will not fight back? Is this 


St. Augustine Mob Attacks Negroes," New York Times, 26 
June 1964, 1. 

417 Garrow, 70. 


Florida's answer to the Civil Rights Movement. Must we 
be lumped with Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama? 418 

New Orleans 

Renick' s civil rights opinions stretched not only to 

other parts of the state of Florida, but also to other parts 

of the United States. When Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis 

shut down the schools in his state to prevent court-ordered 

integration, Renick called for Louisiana to adopt "a more 

realistic viewpoint to the law of the land." 419 When rioting 

broke out in New Orleans because of attempts to integrate 

schools, Renick castigated the leadership as well as the 

citizenry of the city of New Orleans and the state of 

Louisiana. He was particularly critical of Governor Davis 

and state legislators, whom he called "demagogues" for their 

attempts to circumvent federal integration orders. Some of 

his most severe criticism was reserved for New Orleans 

parents who had demonstrated against school integration: 

It' s admittedly easy to criticize another state from a 
somewhat distant vantage point in Miami, but we feel 

Ralph Renick, "St. Augustine Casting Shadow on Entire 
State," 29 June 1964. 

Ralph Renick, "Louisiana, Not Another Little Rock," 14 
November 1960. The first part of this quote is Renick' s on- 
camera introduction to the film and audio from New Orleans. 
The film is indicated by "FILM-SOUND" and "AUDIO." The final 
three paragraphs of the quote are Renick' s on-camera 
editorial tag. 


particularly bad about the bitter seeds sown by 
demagogues in and out of the Louisiana Legislature which 
have spawned a bumper-crop of hate and violence. The 
following action, this week, by a group of mothers 
outside a New Orleans school points this up: 




"We don' t want no niggers in our 
neighborhood. Why don' t you move 
in a colored quarter? They got 
places for you (CROWD JEERS — 

Why should our children have to 
suffer for one little nigger? Now 
you answer that. One little nigger 
and 400 children' s got to leave." 
the man we don' t want to integrate, 
tell him we don't want no niggers." 

It is generally accepted that mothers the world 
over — even in Louisiana hold a responsibility to teach 
their young the ways of morality, justice and respect 
for law. 

We feel the howling matriarchs of White supremacy in 
New Orleans hardly rate for any Mother of the Year 

They have not only shamed themselves before a world 
audience, but there is no telling what scars they have 
left on the minds of their own children. Such are the 
tragic results when the law is flounted (sic) and 
morality is abandoned to emotion. 420 

Los Anaeles 

The violence in summer 1965 in Los Angeles was the most 

destructive the country had seen in decades. Thirty-four 

people were killed; more than one thousand were injured; 

Ralph Renick, "Tragedy in the Streets of New Orleans," 1 
December 1960. 


losses were estimated at $40 million; almost four thousand 
people were arrested. 421 

The trouble had started when police in the Watts section 
of the city tried to arrest a young black man after a stop on 
suspicion of drunk driving. A crowd had gathered; the 
officers had come under attack and had called for backup. 
The crowd grew into the hundreds, then into the thousands. 
It was estimated that eventually as many as 7,000 to 10,000 
black citizens had taken part in the rioting before it ended 
six days later. A 150-square-block area of Los Angeles was 
devastated. The greater toll had been the "revival or 
creation of mutual hate and fear between Negroes and 
whites." 422 

There were similarities between Los Angeles and other 
cities in the country and in Florida in which racial trouble 
had erupted. The police chief in Los Angeles had a 
reputation for treating blacks unfairly. Chief William H. 
Parker III had little respect for civil rights leaders, on 
whose doorstep he laid some of the blame for the Los Angeles 
violence. Parker said, "When you keep telling people they 

421 Sobel, 306. 


are unfairly treated and teach them disrespect for the law, 
you must expect this kind of thing sooner or later." 423 

Community leaders also cited poverty, unemployment, and 
de facto school segregation as reasons for the explosion of 
violence in Watts. From the other side of the country, 
Renick warned his Miami viewers that what had happened in Los 
Angeles was the result of "years of lack of opportunity for 
the Negro," an implied message that lack of opportunity for 
Miami blacks could also mean trouble. 424 

Even as Renick was commenting on civil rights problems 
in other cities, he was keeping an editorial eye on civil 
rights developments in Miami. Renick warned in February 1964 
that there were danger signs in Miami, that without changes, 
Miami, too, could be facing civil rights problems. Renick' s 
editorial quoted the farewell remarks of Seymour Samet, who 
had headed the area' s Community Relations Board on an interim 
basis during its first nine months of existence. Samet had 
said, "Miami, long noted for its superficial attendance to 
the major problems of our times, has muddled through on 

Ralph Renick, "Violence Sometimes Teaches A Lesson," 16 
August 1965. 


economic planning, urban growth and social welfare." Samet 
warned that in the absence of real civil rights progress, 
those factors were not enough. 425 

Plans were being considered for sit-ins at one of Dade 
County 1 s major industries, there was resistance to blacks 
moving into previously all-white neighborhoods, only a few of 
the community' s black children were attending integrated 
schools, and touted improvements in employment opportunity 
and public accommodation in hotels and restaurants was, in 
fact, only tokenism. Renick quoted Samet: "[ W] e are enmeshed 
in a revolution—not an evolution." 426 

Two and a half months later, Renick praised formation of 
the Metro Community Relations Board, a bi-racial group of 
fifteen citizens. He warned, "The work of the Community 
Relations Board can come to nothing if we citizens of Dade 

4 5 Renick, "Racial Danger Signs Appear in Miami," 25 February 

Ibid. This editorial was broadcast one month before 
trouble flared in Jacksonville. In this editorial, Renick 
included Cuban refugees in the groups that were treated 
unfairly in Miami, calling them "scapegoats of our many 
ills." This was a theme he was to visit frequently in the 
years after Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and Cuban 
refugees flooded into the Miami area. 


turn a deaf ear to the rights of all citizens." 427 Later the 
same month, Renick called for the keeping of voting lists by 
race to be abolished. 428 

On the day President Johnson signed the new Civil Rights 
Act, Renick cautioned his viewers that the job of attaining 
equal rights for all Americans was not over: "Today the 
Congress made it official. But tonight and tomorrow, it is 
up to all of us to make come to pass what we all believe — 
that this nation is what we claim it to be — the home of 
equality for all." 429 

Renick addressed the issue of equal treatment in the 
justice system long before many newsmen when he editorialized 
in early 1965. In speaking of capital punishment in Florida, 
Renick emphasized that, although a roughly equal number of 
blacks and whites had been convicted of rape between 1940 and 
1964, thirty-five of the thirty-six men who had been 
electrocuted for the crime were black. Renick said, "Equal 
punishment for Negroes and Whites would seem a minimum 

427 Ralph Renick, "Racial Harmony Is Everyone' s Business," 7 
May 1964. Once again, Renick included Cubans among those 
whose rights and needs were important. 

428 Ralph Renick, "Voting in Florida Should Not Be a Black and 
White Issue," 29 May 1964. 

429 Ralph Renick, "Civil Rights Is Everybody 1 s Job," 2 July 


requirement, particularly when a man sits in the electric 
chair." 430 

The next month Renick praised the Miami area' s record of 
avoiding racial trouble, although racial strife was hitting 
other areas of the country. In praising the Metro Community 
Relations Board, Renick said the reason for Miami' s 
relatively untroubled record was that the area had "avoided 
trouble by not waiting for trouble to erupt." 431 

In July 1965, Renick offered his support to a Community 
Relations Board solution for black parents dissatisfied with 
plans to build a new school in a predominately black section 
of town. Parents had complained that building a new school 
in the black section would serve only to promote the status 
quo of de facto segregation. The Board recommended that two 
smaller schools be built, one in the black section of the 
school district, one in the white district. Students, and 
their parents, were to be allowed to choose which school they 
would attend and would not be forced to attend the one 
closest to their home if they found the racial mix, or lack 
of it, unsatisfactory. It was the board' s idea that some 

430 Ralph Renick, "Capital Punishment in Florida," 2 February 

431 Ralph Renick, "Miami Is Not Like Selma," 12 July 1965. 


black children would go to school in the white neighborhood 

and some white children would go to school in the black 

neighborhood. In retrospect, such a plan may seem 

idealistic, but Renick, writing from the perspective of the 

1960s, approved, saying: 

Observe any first grader in today' s world. He neither 
cares nor is overtly aware that his seatmate is black or 
white. If this attitude is adopted in the first grade, 
his generation is well on the way to avoiding all the 
racial misery the nation is going through. 432 

It was another attempt by Renick to promote racial harmony in 
his community. 

In summer of 1967, racial harmony for Miami was still on 
Renick' s mind. In June, he called for increased opportunity 
for recreation for young people, as well as housing and 
employment opportunities. He also editorialized for a re- 
doubling of efforts "before, not after, trouble starts." 
Eyes, as usual, on other parts of the country, as well as 
Miami, Renick reminded viewers there had already been trouble 
early in the summer in Lansing, Detroit, Cincinnati, and 
Dayton. 433 

432 Ralph Renick, "Racial Disharmony Stirred at New School 
Site," 12 July 1965. 

433 Ralph Renick, "Let' s Keep Miami Cool This Summer," 16 June 


As summer progressed, the streets of cities such as 
Newark, New York, Detroit, and Plainfield (NJ) erupted in 
rioting and racial conflict. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 
had warned in April that at least ten cities were ripe for 
violence during the coming summer. King described the cities 
as "powder kegs," saying conditions that had caused riots the 
previous summer still existed. King had listed Cleveland, 
Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Washington, Newark, and New 
York as cities that were in danger of racial strife. He did 
not name any other cities but said some of them were in the 
south. 434 

In mid-July, the worst rioting since Watts hit Newark, 
New Jersey. With the familiar problems of poverty, high 
unemployment, segregated schools, and an unresponsive city 
government, it was no wonder that Newark had been on King* s 
list. After police arrested a black taxi driver, then 
scuffled with him as they took him into the Fourth Precinct 
station house, rumors floated through the community that the 
taxi driver had been beaten to death. A mob converged on the 
station house, throwing rocks and bottles. The disturbance 
spread to Newark' s downtown section. It would be five days 

Steven D. Price, ed., Civil Rights 1967-68 (New York: 
Facts on File, Inc., 1973), 4. 


before an uneasy calm returned to Newark. In that time, 
twenty-six people would die; more than 1,500 would be 
injured; almost 1,400 arrested; more than three hundred fires 
would be reported; the rioting would cover almost one-half of 
the city 7 s area; and estimates of damage would range from $15 
million to $30 million. 435 

Disturbances also hit other cities mentioned by King. A 
policeman was killed in Plainfield, New Jersey. The New 
Jersey violence spread to Englewood, New Brunswick, 
Elizabeth, Jersey City and Passaic. Forty people were killed 
in Detroit during the last week of July. Three days of 
rioting in New York City' s Spanish Harlem followed the 
shooting death by an off-duty police officer of a young 
Puerto Rican with a knife in his hand who was spotted 
standing over another man on the ground; two people died. 
There was violence in Dayton, Ohio; Cambridge, Maryland; and 
East Saint Louis, Illinois. The summer of 1967 saw racial 
conflict in three dozen communities in all, including Tampa 
and West Palm Beach, and the shadow of what was happening in 
the rest of America fell over Miami. 436 

Ibid., 5. All the editorialists examined for this 
dissertation were working within the same context. 

436 Ibid., 6-45. 


Rumors spread throughout the city of trouble on the way. 
It seemed illogical to think that Miami could escape the rage 
gripping much of the rest of the country. Renick tried to 
persuade his viewers not to let rumors with no factual basis 
spark disturbances in Miami. "South Florida tonight seems 
inundated by rumors," he said, but he called on citizens to 
get the facts in the wake of disturbances in other cities. 437 
When summer 1967 ended, Miami was not one of the cities on 
the long list of American places torn by violence in the 
struggle for egual rights. 

Miami would not be so fortunate in 1968, the year Martin 
Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. In the week following 
King 7 s death, rioting and other forms of violence broke out 
in more than 125 U.S. cities. Forty-six people were killed; 
2,600 injured; more than 21,000 arrested; property damage was 
estimated at $45 million; more than 50,000 regular federal 
and National Guard troops were deployed to American cities as 
local law enforcement was overwhelmed by the size and 
ferocity of the outbreaks. 438 

Ralph Renick, "A Time for Facts, Not Rumors," 28 July 

438 Price, 1967-68, 230-232. 


The Defense Department reported spending nearly $5.5 
million to deploy troops to violence-stricken cities. 
Washington, DC, was the hardest hit of American cities, with 
about one-third of the property damage in the country. For 
the first time since the administration of Herbert Hoover 
sent Douglas MacArthur to rout World War I veterans demanding 
bigger military bonuses, federal troops were deployed on the 
streets of the capital. In all, 6,000 troops patrolled in 
and around Washington. A machine-gun post was set up on 
Capitol Hill. 

In Washington and the other cities, there had been 
selective looting and burning, according to the President' s 
adviser on community affairs, Betty Furness. 439 Furness 
reported it was the merchants believed by looters to have 
been gouging ghetto customers who were targeted, although the 
belief may have been untrue." Resentment had been growing 
against merchants who sold television sets and other 
appliances to customers at more than one and a half times 
prices charged in other parts of the cities. Furness used 
the Watts section of Los Angeles as an example. She also 
noted that ghetto customers bought 93 percent of their 



purchases on the installment plan, a process that meant they 
paid more as a group for goods because of the interest 
charges involved. 441 The King assassination had been the 
trigger for release of some of the resentments that had been 
building because of the unfairness of the economic realities 
of being black and poor in America. 

Pessimism increased in Miami following King' s death. 
Black leaders in cities all around Miami expressed fear that 
the nonviolent civil rights movement was over. A black 
police sergeant in Riviera Beach warned that the murder of 
King would mean an increase in racial tension everywhere. 442 

A deputy director of the Broward Office of Economic 
Opportunity lamented, "Now there is no hope." 443 The 
organizer of the Liberty City Community Council told the 
Miami Herald, "A lot of people who say nonviolence won' t work 
will say 'I told you so.'" 444 

Others in Liberty City, a black residential and business 
section of Miami, agreed. A middle-aged man told reporters, 

" J Ibid. 

"Florida Negroes are Pessimistic, Miami Herald, 5 April 
1968, 13A. 

443 Ibid. 


"God, here' s a man that they beat and kick and slap around 
and he never hit anybody and now they go and shoot him," and 
a young black told a companion, "White/ s gonna catch hell 

In spite of these warnings, there was no serious racial 
violence reported in Miami in the wake of the King 
assassination." 6 While other cities experienced riots and 
looting, Miami was calm. 

Renick covered the events in Miami and, at the end of 
The Ralph Renick Report the night after King' s death, 
editorialized, "Desecrating his memory by looting or rioting 
or fighting is sheer folly that this nation and everything it 
hopes for cannot afford." 447 

Two weeks later, as the city had cooled down 
temporarily, Renick was still attempting to encourage Miami 
area citizens to move toward an integrated society. Renick 
warned his viewers, "Don't let schools that are integrated 
become all Negro— as happened at Miami Jackson High School," 

"'Era of Progress, Hope Has Ended,' Miami Negro Says. 
Miami Herald, 5 April 1968, 20A. 


<5 4 7 

Ralph Renick, "The Violent End of a Man of Peace," 5 April 
1968 . 


which had gone from an all-white to an all-black school in 
just a few years. 448 

In mid-May, as the "Poor People's March" reached 
Washington, DC, and construction began on "Resurrection 
City," rumors of possible renewed racial violence drifted 
across Miami. 449 In Washington, executive vice president of 
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Andrew Young 
warned that the choice for America was "massive change or 
riots." 450 Fuel was added to the rumors when fourteen black 
students were arrested at the University of Miami as they 
staged a lie-in in the office of university President Henry 
King Stanford, demanding black-oriented courses. 451 Renick, 
as he had a year earlier, called on Miamians not to be swayed 
by rumors of racial troubles in Miami, suggesting the 
Community Relations Board turn its attention to the rumor 
problem and recalling one day of rampant rumors the previous 
summer. Renick said, "It will be only with fact and not 


Ralph Renick, "Keeping the Racial Balance in Miami 
Schools," 18 April 1968. 

Robert H. Feldkamp, "Tattered 'Army of the Poor' reaches 
D.C. Promised land," Miami Herald, 14 May 1968, 1A. 

Saul Friedman, "Choice is Massive Change or Riots," Miami 
Herald, 15 May 1968, 10A. 

Jim Buchanan, "14 Negro Students Arrested After UM 
Demonstration," Miami Herald, 15 May 1968, 1A. 


rumor that Miami will be able to maintain its record of quiet 
summers and cool heads." 452 

The quiet summers and cool heads of which Renick spoke 
became a thing of the past the night of 7 August. The 
Republican National Convention was underway on Miami Beach. 
Speakers at the convention were bemoaning the violence and 
lawlessness that had plagued the country for so many years. 
The Reverend Ralph Abernathy had come to Miami Beach with 
Martin Luther KingT s "Poor People' s Campaign" to protest 
where those attending the convention could see such a protest 
first-hand. As residents in the black residential area in 
northwest Miami held a black voter power rally, a white 
newsman covering the event refused to show his credentials. 
Violence broke out. Police cordoned off an eight-square- 
block area. Miami Mayor Steve Clark, Florida Governor Claude 
Kirk, and The Reverend Ralph Abernathy went to the scene to 
appeal for an end to the disturbance. Later in the evening, 
Abernathy appeared on Miami television, asking for calm. By 
ten o' clock, calm appeared to have been restored. It was 
only temporary. 453 

Ralph Renick, "Squelching the Spread of Racial Rumors," 16 
May 1968. 

453 Price, 270. 


The next day, fighting broke out between police and 
blacks at a meeting where Kirk and Abernathy were expected to 
make an appearance. Neither man came. As disturbance turned 
to riot, 1,000 National Guard troops were brought into the 
area, along with Florida Highway Patrol officers and 
equipment. Motorists driving through the Liberty City area 
were pulled from their cars and set upon by the mob. The 
pattern so familiar in 1960s America was repeated as fires 
were set and stores looted. The riot was short-lived, but 
deadly. Three blacks were killed by police gunfire on 8 
August, one of them a passerby caught in the crossfire.'' 54 

Those attending the Republican National Convention had 
almost gotten a very close look at civil strife in America. 
Rioting had spread to within one mile of the convention hall. 
Dade County Mayor Chuck Hall did not look within his own 
community for the source of the problem. Instead, he blamed 
outsiders for what had happened, charging that it was no 
coincidence the first race riot in Miami area history had 
broken out when so many reporters were in town. 455 

454 Ibid. 271. 

455 Ibid. 


In his editorial that night, Renick refused to lay 
direct blame for the riots but made it clear he thought 
Miami' s problems did not stem from without: 

Miami' s sense of euphoria at having an unblemished 
record of racial harmony has been crushed by the 
developments in Liberty City. 

This is not the appropriate time to start laying 
the blame for the root causes of the violent eruption — 
it is a time to appeal to the rioters to "cool it" and 
to appeal to city officials to respond more effectively 
to the plight of those in the black area. 

What Miami is facing is no different than the 
racial and poverty issues gnawing at the inner core of 
the nation itself. The presence of a national political 
convention here may have triggered the timing of Liberty 
City 7 s uprising, but the combustible ingredients for the 
fire had been warming for some time. However, the 
crucial matter of the moment is to restore peace to the 
city. . . . 

With peace restored, the lines of communication 
between races within the city need to be opened wider 
and more aggressive attention be given to what' s needed 
to keep the embers cooled. 456 

Two days later, as the embers cooled, 250 of those 

arrested during the riots were released from jail without 

paying bond. Medical teams were sent into the riot area to 

treat the injured. National Guard patrols were reduced. In 

return, black leaders agreed to do their best to keep their 

neighborhoods quiet, in spite of the anger that lingered over 

alleged police brutality during the riots. It was anger on 

top of anger. Miami's 200,000 black residents, about one- 

Ralph Renick, "It Finally Happened Here," 8 August 1968. 


tenth of the population, were experiencing 10 percent 
unemployment. Many of those who were employed held low- 
paying jobs. Although several Miami area schools were listed 
as integrated, the overwhelming majority of black youngsters 
attended all-black schools in the ghetto. Clifford A. 
Strauss of the Urban League called Miami "the most racially 
segregated city in the country no matter how much money you 
have to spend." 457 

Strauss' s assessment was supported by Marvin Dunn of 
Florida International University. Dunn wrote of a history of 
strained race relations in Miami, including "the day in 
February 1968, when two white police officers stripped Robert 
Quentin Owens, a seventeen-year-old black youth, and dangled 
him by his heels from an overpass, an event which, among 
others, led to Miami' s racial explosion of that year." 458 It 
was not just the events of 1968 that led to the troubles of 
1968, wrote Dunn: "[Essentially the history of blacks in 
Miami and in Liberty City is a history of being ignored, 
displaced, or quietly oppressed." 459 

Marvin Dunn, "Death Watch," in Eyes on the Prize, eds 
Clayborne Carson and others (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 


Renick had also observed that law enforcement during the 
riots had been less than exemplary. In his 12 August 
editorial, the day after an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew had been 
lifted, Renick was strongly critical of law enforcement, 
particularly Miami' s police chief: 

At this point, it seems apparent that despite Miami 
Police Chief Walter Headle/ s widely publicized threat 
that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," 
there was a singular lack of command decision to meet 
the emergency. 

There was confusion of command. The policeman 
under attack wanted the National Guard pulled in. 

The mayor of Miami, strangely, has no direct 
jurisdiction over the police chief —that job falls to 
the employed City Manager. The manager refused for some 
hours to call up the Guard. 

Governor Kirk was also in the act, as was County 
Mayor Chuck Hall. The governor finally ordered Sheriff 
W. Wilson Purdy to assume command even though the action 
was taking place within the city limits. Miami Chief of 
Police Walter Headley was vacationing at his North 
Carolina retreat and is still there. He didn't return 
to supervise his forces in the tense hours which 
followed. The Miami police ran short on tear gas and 
ammunition. The "Monster Machine" armored truck of the 
Highway Patrol was used to indiscriminately shoot 
teargas into occupied housing units and other places 
away from the direct scene of trouble. 

Renick also criticized police for staying out of the 

riot area at the height of violence, failing to protect 

businesses and people. He suggested that the "matter is 

serious enough for the Chief of Police to interrupt his 

vacation and return to his position of command." If Headley 

could not come back immediately, said Renick, he should 


"permanently retire and turn the reins over to somebody 
willing to face up to this key responsibility." 460 

With the end of crisis conditions in Miami, the number 
of WTVJ editorials on civil rights diminished, but the 
subject was apparently never far from Renick' s thoughts. In 
September he agreed with University of Miami President Henry 
King Stanford that the song, Dixie, should not be played at 
University of Miami events. Both Dixie and the Confederate 
flag, said Renick, were "symbols [of] an anachronistic 
expression of racial prejudice." 461 Another editorial one 
month later called for blacks to share in the wealth of the 
Miami area, for the addition of more black employees to city 
payrolls, and for improved education for black students. 462 
As the turbulent 1960s drew to a close, Miami had not 
completely escaped racial violence, although the degree of 
violence, the number of deaths, and the dollar amounts of 
damage were not as great as many other big American cities. 
It is impossible to conclude that the editorial comments of 


Ralph Renick, "A Hard Look at Miami Riot Control," 12 
August 1968. 


Ralph Renick, "Southern Heritage: Living on Without 
Dixie," 27 September 1968. 

4 62 

Ralph Renick, "Tough Talk for a Tough Situation," 24 
October 1968. 


the most powerful broadcast voice in the Miami market 
contributed to a lesser level of strife. As usual, direct 
correlation is impossible to prove. It is possible to 
imagine that he had some ameliorative effect on Miami' s civil 
rights tribulations. It is evident that at times Renick was 
a voice of reason in his city, an existential presence who 
took seriously the responsibility that came with his job, a 
true community journalist. 

Like the other editorialists who are subjects of this 
dissertation, Ralph Renick displayed a consistent 
communitarian spirit, delivering editorials that urged fellow 
travelers in his society to do the right thing. Renick was 
responsible for more editorials than either Brechner or 
Davis, in part because he was first, in part because he 
stayed longest. 

The Miami broadcaster' s editorials were sometimes in the 
form of crusades, sometimes on the same subject for many 
consecutive nights. The apparent effectiveness of his 
crusades is easier to gauge when he was editorializing on 
striptease establishments or unsanitary restaurants. Results 
of campaigns on crime, governmental corruption, and civil 
rights are not as easily measured. 


The work of the third editorialist considered in this 
dissertation is somewhat different from the previous two. 
Norm Davis and WJXT-TV in Jacksonville presented a more team- 
oriented effort. Editorials were combined with regular 
investigative news reports more regularly than the editorials 
at WTVJ-TV and WFTV-TV. 

Davis had been brought into the news department in 1960 
to work on the investigative reports because News Director 
Bill Grove wanted more than a "rip and read" newscast. In 
producing his editorials, Davis had Grove' s full support, as 
well as that of the rest of station management and parent 
company Post-Newsweek. Davis wrote and read the editorials 
because the news team felt news anchors should not be 
identified with opinion. Such an association would harm 
their objectivity in the delivery of news stories. 463 

>3 Michael Hornerger, "How TV Can Move a City Into Action,' 
Television Magazine, October 1966, 43. 



In concert with the editorial campaign at WJXT, a three- 
year investigative campaign brought about momentous change in 
the Jacksonville area. Davis continued to contribute to the 
investigative effort, even after two investigative reporters 
were hired. He was also consulted on how news stories on the 
investigative topics were to be handled. Reporters who 
worked in the newsroom in the 1960s recall the frequent 
closed-door meetings involving investigative reporters, the 
news director, and the editorial director. Former 
reporter/anchor John Thomas recalls some paranoia that word 
would get out about the team' s efforts. Davis has claimed 
not to remember any such paranoia. 464 

The crusade examined in this section was much shorter 
than the crusade (s) examined at the other stations. It was a 
three-year campaign that consumed all the effort of some of 
the broadcasters. Unlike the campaigns of Ralph Renick in 
Miami and Joe Brechner in Orlando, there was no civil rights 
element. It was an all-out, all-consuming attack on 
corruption in local government, a crusade that was a major 
factor in bringing about a change in Jacksonville area 
government that had been resisted for a century, a crusade 

Interview with John Thomas in Tallahassee on 8 November 
1997. Interview with Norm Davis on 6 October 1997. 


that directly resulted in the resignations or removals from 
office of a large contingent of Jacksonville area government 

This chapter describes the launch of the Davis 
editorials on WJXT-TV, Davis' motivations for his strong 
editorial commitment, and the situation in Jacksonville and 
Duval County that led Davis and his co-workers at WJXT-TV to 
pursue their brand of community journalism. It was community 
journalism that involved strong editorials combined with 
investigative reporting. This chapter concludes with a 
recounting of the reactions of the people involved to the 
changes wrought in Jacksonville in the mid-1960s. 
The Editorials Begin 

With no editorial history at the station, WJXT-TV had 
made its start-up editorial policy clear in September 1962: 

Tonight WJXT launches an editorial policy which we 
hope will fill a community need, and at the outset we 
feel we should elaborate a bit on what we intend to do. 

Our editorial comment will follow in the tradition 
of WJXT' s "Project 4" series, which has established 
itself as a pioneer in Jacksonville in aggressive, 
candid reporting of community issues and problems. We 
intend to continue this tradition on frequent occasions 
as an integral part of Newsnight [ the six and eleven 
p.m. newscasts] . Our comment, by and large will concern 
local regional issues and problems, since these are most 
in need of exploration. We do not intend to be limited 
in what we will study, and this will include many vital 
issues which have heretofore been by-passed altogether. 


It was a fairly innocuous beginning, with little warning 
of the disruption WTVJ editorials would raise within the 
area' s inefficient, corrupt back rooms of government, but 
there was a foreshadowing of what was to come, when Davis 
told his audience that the editorials would not be delivered 
on a nightly basis; they would be on "a need basis" so there 
would be no necessity to editorialize about "those safe 
popular issues everyone can agree on." Grove said, "We do 
not expect that all our views will be universally popular, 
but we do hope they will stimulate increased thought and 
concern for the problems and issues that affect us all."" 5 
Davis Background 
In 1999, Davis had no difficulty remembering the 
circumstances surrounding the WJXT-TV editorial/investigative 
reports campaign that brought about major changes in 
Jacksonville area government. It was more difficult for him 
to recall what it was in his background that led him to 
become a crusader for good government. Davis's father was a 
military man, stationed in Key West until Davis was twelve 
years old. Both Davis and his sister were encouraged to 
pursue their education although their parents had not 
advanced beyond sixth grade. There was no strong religious 

465 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 10 September 1962. 


factor in the upbringing of the Davis children. Nonetheless, 
Davis developed what he terms a "calling." He said, "It may 
be the kind of thing that calls various people to a pulpit or 
a ministry someplace, but it was innate somehow. . . . Part 
of my inner motivations — somehow I acquired this sense that 
power shouldn't be abused, and I still have it." 466 

One factor that led Davis and other members of the WJXT 
news team to their editorial crusade was chance. Local news 
media in Jacksonville were not "digging in," according to 
Davis. Both Davis and his associate, News Director Bill 
Grove, were to recall that some of the media were owned in 
part and controlled by the Florida East Coast Railway. The 
F.E.C. was part of the business power structure of the 
Jacksonville area and wanted no one revealing facts that 
would disturb that power structure. The government was not 
responsive to its citizens; churches were "not lifting a 
finger"; and the school system was in chaos. There was a 
void — and WJXT moved in. 467 

There was not even a plan, says Davis. The WJXT news 
team just began looking at individual problems. Those 
problems became part of a pattern, and that pattern became 

466 Interview with Norm Davis, 8 March 1999. 

467 Ibid. 


the subject of WJXT' s campaign to get rid of not only the 
corrupt government office holders in the Jacksonville area 
but also the system that had allowed corruption and 
inefficiency to become the norm. 468 

Norm Davis had developed his interest in broadcast 
journalism at the University of Florida in the 1950s. He 
became so involved with the college radio station, WRUF, that 
he not only worked at the station for four-and-one-half 
years, he sometimes lived in the station because to have left 
the station to sleep elsewhere would have been a waste of 
valuable time. There was, however, no broadcast journalism 
program at the University of Florida, so even as he continued 
to work and live at the station, he switched his course of 
study to print journalism. He also "bugged" journalism 
college Dean Rae Weimer to institute a broadcast journalism 
curriculum. In later years, Weimer credited Davis with being 
responsible for getting the broadcast journalism track 
started at the university, telling people to whom he 
introduced Davis, "This is the guy who kept badgering me 
about doing broadcast news courses." Davis says his studies 
in journalism, particularly the history of journalism, made 


him think about the profession' s roles and brought out the 

desire to "go scratch an itch somewhere." 469 

Another experience that brought out that desire to go 

scratch an itch was Davis' membership in a books discussion 

group in Jacksonville. Being part of the group forced him, 

he said, to read books he never would have had the discipline 

to read on his own. Among the books on the reading list was 

Alexis de Toqueville' s Democracy in America. It was 

Democracy in America that introduced Davis to the idea of 

"self-interest properly understood." Davis said: 

[ A] nd as I read through his book and we chewed it up in 
our discussion session, it dawned on me as being a 
really powerful idea which was not original with de 
Tocqueville. It is part of a lot of philosophies, and 
that is what goes around comes around. And self- 
interest properly understood is a self-interest that 
understands that when you take care of somebody else, 
the/ 11 take care of you. When you do something out 
there that is positive, somehow that is going to benefit 
you in the long run, and I think that is a working 
philosophy for business, a working philosophy for 
families, a working philosophy, I think, for 

Davis also said Tocqueville' s ideas may have been one of the 

factors in his conviction that power should not be abused. 

Even Tocqueville did not believe that all Americans were 

as interested in their own self-interest as they claimed to 

469 Ibid. 

470 Ibid. 


be. Referring to self-interest properly understood, 

Tocqueville wrote: 

In the United States there is hardly any talk of the 
beauty of virtue. But they maintain that virtue is 
useful and prove it every day. American moralists do 
not pretend that one must sacrifice himself for his 
fellow because it is a fine thing to do so. But they 
boldly assert that such sacrifice is as necessary for 
the man who makes it as for the beneficiaries. 

In another passage, speaking of religion in America and 

the same adherence to self-interest properly understood 

Tocqueville asserted, "I respect them too much to believe 

character to want to appear to be practical in their virtue, 
when, in fact, they were driven by more benevolent 
motivations. Davis also said the practical approach is most 
useful when those doing good deeds are not driven by purely 
altruistic persuasion, but it is more desirable to be moved 
"from some kind of a moral or ethical imperative." 473 

Self-interest does not appear to have been the main 
motivation behind Davis' editorial work. He sounded very 
much like the ideal community journalist when he said in 

471 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. George 
Lawrence; J. P. Mayer and Max Lerner, eds. (New York: Harper 
and Row, 1966) , 497. 

472 Ibid., 500. 

473 Davis interview, 8 March 1969. 


1999, "I think one of the hallmarks of news and news 

reporting is to give people what they need to know in order 

to be good citizens and effective citizens." And there seems 

to have been little concern for ratings in the Jacksonville 

crusade against crooked government. Davis said: 

No, because at that time neither Bill [ news director 
Bill Grove] nor I understood much about ratings at all, 
and even less about programming as such. We did it 
because, in the news business, that's what you did. 474 

The Davis Editor ial Campaign 

On 8 August 1967, the voters of Jacksonville and Duval 

County, Florida, went to the polls to decide what form of 

government they wanted. The choice was simple. Would they 

continue to have a government with one group of elected and 

appointed officials for Jacksonville and another for Duval 

County or would they consolidate their government? They had 

been subjected to a vigorous, sometimes bitter, campaign with 

strong arguments on both sides. They had been subjected to 

racist arguments by those opposed to consolidation who tried 

to convince black voters that consolidation was an attempt to 

keep power out of the hands of the African-American 

community's hands. 475 They had heard arguments directed at 

"' Ibid. 


Richard Martin, Consolidation: Jacksonville, Duval County 
Jacksonville: Convention Press, Inc., 1968), 160. 


the African-American community that whites from the suburbs 
would control the city. They had heard arguments from 
consolidation opponents that consolidation was a communist- 
inspired plot. 476 

Residents of areas outside the city were bombarded with 
warnings that they would be giving up the independence they 
had always enjoyed and that they would be paying taxes to 
support the workings of the City of Jacksonville. If they 
voted against consolidation, citizens of the area would 
simply be continuing a long tradition of refusing to become 
part of a massive area government.' 177 

Why then did this vote turn out differently from earlier 
referenda on Jacksonville area consolidation? Why when the 
ballots were counted had area voters approved consolidation 
by an almost 2-1 margin?'' 78 Furthermore, why had county 
voters approved consolidation by a margin of 8-5? Given the 
similarities between the 1967 election and other elections 
involving combined governments for the Jacksonville area, 
what was the difference in this one? 

Ibid., 155. 


There were several factors in this complicated issue, 
such as strong leadership, willingness of consolidation 
backers to tweak the plan to accommodate opponents, strong 
African-American support, teamwork between legislators and 
local proponents, almost wholehearted business support, and 
strong media support. 479 One of the major differences, 
however, was the work of a group of investigative reporters 
at television station WJXT. The reporters, led by News 
Director Bill Grove and Editorial Director Norm Davis, 
increased the intensity of their work on the government 
clean-up campaign in early 1965. 48 ° 

Less than two years later, in late 1966, when the Local 
Government Study Commission released its recommendation for 
consolidation, eight county and city officials had been 
indicted on 104 counts involving expenditures of government 
funds for personal items, the use of government vehicles for 
personal needs, padding payrolls, subverting the competitive 

Ibid., 226-234. 

480 1965 was the year WJXT began to bear down on the 
corruption issue, although there had been earlier editorials 
that were ancillary to the issues of corruption, governmental 
inefficiency, and consolidation. 


bidding system to award contracts to favorite companies, 

bribery, perjury, and grand larceny. 481 

At first WJXT was alone in its zeal to uncover the 

wrongs in area government. Former Florida Times-Union 

reporter, and the paper' s leading consolidation writer in the 

mid-'eOs, Richard A. Martin in Consolidation: Jacksonville- 

Duval County, minimized the effect of citizen protest against 

corruption and, therefore, by implication, denigrated the 

effect of the work of WJXT. He contradicted that opinion, 

however, in several other sections of Consolidation. 482 For 

instance, when Martin wrote of WJXT' s documentaries on the 

problems of city-county government and the station' s early 

support of consolidation, he also said: 

Yet WJXT made its most effective contribution to 
government reform in Jacksonville-Duval by a series of 
investigative news reports, begun early in 1965, which 
revealed irregularities in a wide range of municipal 
affairs. . . . These findings . . . alerted the public 
to conditions that had been ignored by local news media 
for years. 483 

Nonetheless, Martin' s reluctance to credit WJXT as a 

primary force behind the push for consolidation continued 

into the late 1990s. He said in 1997, "I don't think 

481 Martin, Consolidation, 82-92. 

482 Ibid., 234. 

483 Ibid., 77. 


consolidation would have succeeded if they [ the Florida 

Times-Union] hadn't hired me, or someone like me. I don't 

think it would have succeeded if it didn' t have the full 

endorsement and support of the newspapers. I don' t think 

radio or television could have done it." 484 However, the 

evidence to be presented in this chapter shows that, had it 

not been for WJXT, other local media might have continued to 

ignore the area's political corruption problems. Had that 

been the case, it is probable consolidation would not have 

succeeded in 1967. 

Other Issues Being Covered bv the Press 
in the Mid-Sixties 

As elsewhere in the country, two issues receiving heavy 

press coverage in Jacksonville were a war in Southeast Asia 

and a battle for civil rights in America. The Vietnam War 

was claiming lives, both U.S. and Vietnamese lives, at an 

alarming rate. 485 The Civil Rights movement was being covered 

daily. 486 One week before the consolidation vote, front-page 

stories in the Florida Times-Union included a report on 

Interview with Richard Martin, 30 November 1997. 

485 Manchester, The Glory and the Dream, 1022-1025. 

Wm. David Sloan, James G. Stovall, eds., The Media in 
America (Worthington, OH: Publishing Horizons, Inc., 1989) 


racial unrest in Chicago; Madison, Wisconsin; and Washington, 
DC, 487 as well as a story on the call by Senator John McLellan 
of Arkansas for a study on what was causing the 
disturbances. 488 In the paper's second section on the same 
day, the top story was a report on the deaths of six 
Jacksonville area servicemen killed while on duty aboard the 
U.S.S. Forrestal in Vietnam. 489 Another story on the same 
page listed the advantages the paper expected to accrue to 
Jacksonville because of the new Disney theme park in 
Orlando. 490 On the third page of the "B" section there was a 
story on consolidation in Nashville, Tennessee. 491 Nashville 
had been used as a model for formulation of some parts of 
Jacksonville' s consolidation plan. 

On 7 August 1967, the day before the consolidation vote, 
the consolidation story was placed at the bottom of the front 

487 "Negro Gangs Roam DC; No Shooting," Florida Times-Union, 
August 1, 1967, A-l. 

488 "Special Study of Riots Urged," Florida Times-Union, 
August 1, 1967, A-l. 

489 "Forrestal Casualty List Includes Six Local Men," Florida 
Times-Union, 1 August 1967, B-l. 

490 "Disneyworld to Aid Area," Florida Times-Union, 1 August 
1967, B-l. 

"Nashville-Our Metro Model; How Goes Consolidation There," 
Florida Times-Union, 1 August 1967, B-3. 


page of the Times -Union. 492 The story included mention of 
other consolidation stories inside the Times-Union. The 
story at the top of page one concerned racial problems in the 
North. 493 There was a story on the downing of an American 
fighter plane over North Vietnam. 49,1 On 8 August, the day 
voters were to go to the polls, the top story in the rimes- 
Union estimated that 100,000 people would vote on 
consolidation. 495 It was accompanied by a front-page 
editorial in favor of consolidation. 496 Other front-page 
stories were about a group of black residents from Harlem 
demonstrating in the public gallery of the U.S. House to 

492 Richard Martin, "Consolidation Proposal Faces Final Test 
at Polls Tomorrow," Florida Times-Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 

493 "Guardsmen Leaving Milwaukee as Detroit Emergency Ends, 
Florida Times-Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 

494 UPI, "637 th U.S. Plane Felled over North," Florida Times- 
Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 

495 Maria Rasmussen, "100,000 Turnout Is Forecast Today for 
Merger Vote,' Florida Times-Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 

496 Richard Martin, "We Recommend Consolidation," Florida 
Times-Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 


protest House action killing a rat control bill, 497 and a 
report on the loss of five U.S. helicopters in Vietnam. 498 

On 9 August, the day after voters had approved 
consolidation for the Jacksonville area, the page one 
headline read, "Consolidation Scores Big Victory." 499 The 
margin of victory had been 2-1. The vote had made 
Jacksonville the biggest city in Florida in terms of square 
miles, the 29 th largest in the country. Also on the front 
page were stories about a U.S. House-approved anti-crime 
bill, with a provision for $25 million to be used for anti- 
riot training, 500 and a report on the shelling of North 
Vietnam by the U.S. Heavy Cruiser, St. Paul, and three U.S. 
destroyers. 501 Another front-page story noted that employment 

AP, "Negroes Stage Capitol Protest," Florida Times-Union, 

8 August 1967, A-l. 

UPI, "Reds Down Five Copters Near Saigon," Florida Times- 
Union, 8 August 1967, A-l. 

Joe Sigler, "Consolidation Scores Big Victory," Florida 
Times-Union, 9 August 1967, A-l. 

UPI, "House Votes $75 Million Anticrime Bill," Florida 
Times-Union, 9 August 1967, A-l. 

UPI, "Warships Shell Red Positions," Florida Times-Union, 

9 August 1967, A-l. 


in the United States was at a record high, with unemployment 
down to 3.9 percent. 502 

Deeper inside the paper was a picture of the current 
mayor of Jacksonville, Hans Tanzler, whose support of 
consolidation was part of the reason he would have to run 
again for his own job just a few months after his election 
under the old form of government. The picture showed the 
mayor having lunch with a group of Headstart students at 
Brentwood Elementary School the day before, while his future 
and the future of Jacksonville was being decided. While 
Jacksonville voters were casting their ballots, a relaxed 
Hans Tanzler was dining in the school cafeteria on spaghetti 
with cheese and meat sauce, tossed green salad, green peas, 
rolls and butter, frosted chocolate cake and milk. 503 
The WJXT School Editorials 
WJXT-TV, WFGA-TV, the Florida Times-Union, and the 
Jacksonville Journal had all reported on the sorry state of 
Jacksonville's education system. 504 In part because the 
county tax assessor had refused to assess and tax property at 

UPI, "U.S. Employment Hits Record High in July; Decline 
Erased," Florida Times-Union, 9 August 1967, A-l. 

Allan Walker (photographer) , No story caption, Florida 
Times-Union, 9 August 1967. B-10. 

504 Richard Martin, Consolidation, 37. 


its true value, in part because the citizenry liked its free- 
rider status on taxes, the county school system had steadily 
declined. Schools were overcrowded; school buildings were 
run-down and dangerous; the school system was run almost 
independently of other governmental bodies. A study of the 
Duval County school system said the schools were part of the 
area' s political machine. An education crusade by the media, 
warning that area schools were in trouble and in danger of 
being disaccredited, had little effect, and in 1964, all of 
Duval County's senior high schools were disaccredited. 505 

Although the poor school system in the Jacksonville area 
was not a direct part of WJXT' s crusade on corruption and 
waste in the area' s form of government, it was one of several 
issues that illustrated how poorly government was being run 
on which the station editorialized. It was one of the issues 
that would eventually result in voters showing their lack of 
faith in elected officials. The first editorial on Duval 
County schools came in November 1962: 

The remarkable thing about Duval County' s school problem 
is the way people are so casual about it. For years 
now, responsible groups and individuals have waved a 
danger flag about our sagging schools, but nobody stops 
to listen. ... In the most recent case, the Community 
Development Program, which spent months studying all of 

5 05 

Richard Martin, Quiet Revolution, 31-44. 


the myriad problems of Jacksonville and Duval County, 
has put the public schools at the very top of a lengthy 
list of problems which urgently need attention. Could 
we ask for any stronger indictment than that? 

The editorial went on to note that a $79 million road 

program for Duval County had been "signed, sealed and 

delivered." Davis told viewers it was likely that few people 

had asked serious questions about the multimillion-dollar 

contract. A bond sale to raise $63 million for the municipal 

electric system was likely to get the same rapid approval 

with only a cursory attempt to investigate the procedures 


What we have in this community is a dangerously 
misplaced sense of values. People are quick to scream 
if they are shortchanged on trading stamps, but almost 
nobody bats an eye when our youngsters are shortchanged 
at school by poor teachers or a shortage of materials. 
The penalty we will pay for this warped sense of what is 
important will be retarded development of the most 
valuable single resource our nation and our country can 
have — our children. 

When will Duval County grow up to meet its clear and 
unmistakable duty? 506 

The problem was affecting Jacksonville students when it 

came time to move on to post high school education, said 

Davis. 50 The county's school system was getting fewer 

dollars from area taxpayers than any school system in the 

506 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 15 November 1962. 

507 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 19 June 1963. 


state. It was also the only large metropolitan area in 

Florida without a state-supported community or four-year 

college. 508 Davis continued: 

Not only does the quality of education in grades one 
through twelve leave something to be desired, because of 
inadequate support, but Duval County is sending less and 
less of its high school graduates on to higher 
education. In 1962, only thirty-two percent of this 
county' s high school graduates enrolled in a college or 
university in Florida. The statewide average was fifty 
percent. This is a dangerous lag, in view of the 
growing demands of business and industry for more 
highly-trained individuals, plus the need for 
flexibility and re-training being forced on us by 
technological change. 509 

The lack was even more irresponsible, said Davis, 
because most of the cost of a higher learning facility would 
have been borne by the state, with a minimal contribution 
from the county. "At what point," wrote Davis, "will the 
people of Duval County get tired of being last in the state 
in the things that really count. 510 

Davis blamed some of the school problems on an 
inefficient tax system. When an attempt to right inequities 
in the appraisal system focused on the downtown areas of 
Jacksonville, rather than attempting to equalize assessments 

508 Ibid. 

509 Ibid. 

510 Ibid. 


throughout the county, Davis once again warned that schools 

would suffer: 

School officials repeatedly have warned that all 
high schools in the county will lose their accreditation 
in two years unless major improvements are made. On the 
financial side, this can be done only if the tax base is 
broadened considerably, yet the assessor is not able to 
say whether an equalization of downtown property will 
broaden the base at all. Many people feel, on the 
contrary, that the tax base might even be narrowed, 
which would eat into school and county revenues even 
more. 511 

The county tax assessor had claimed his plan to focus on 
downtown property tax appraisals would save citizens of the 
county hundreds of thousands of dollars. Davis called that a 
"false economy of the worst variety if it results in 
disaccredited schools and permanent damage to the children of 
this county." It was not piece-meal equalization that was 
needed, but a crash program to be applied county-wide, a 
program that would fund improvements in the county school 
system. "Without it," wrote Davis, "our sinking schools may 
drop right out of sight." 512 

Davis was also critical of the Duval County system of 
choosing a school superintendent. Duval was one of many 
counties in the state in which the school superintendent was 

311 Ibid. 

512 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 27 September 1963. 


elected. Only a handful of counties used a system that 
allowed members of the school board to select the 
superintendent. Those counties, said Davis, were, not so 
coincidentally, "ranked among the very best in the state." 
The counties in which school superintendents were appointed 
could choose from a pool that included candidates from all 
over the country. Sticking with the outmoded system of 
electing school superintendents meant that a candidate had to 
have been a resident of Duval County for the past six months 
and in the state for the past year. With the other 
requirements, such as a graduate degree and experience in 
school administration, there were very few choices. It was, 
editorialized Davis, another example of outmoded, inefficient 
government at work in greater Jacksonville. 513 

When Duval school officials attempted to shift the blame 
for a deteriorating school system to state government, Davis 
was having none of it: 

Many of the people who want no part of a property 
revaluation program insist that the state legislature is 
at fault for not having provided Duval County with new 
tax sources for schools. What this argument says, in 
short, is that local government has met its 
responsibility, that state government has not. 

The facts show, however, that just the reverse is 
true. In the first place, Florida' s state government is 
far ahead of most states in terms of direct financial 

Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 3 October 1963. 


support of public schools. On a nationwide basis, the 
average state contributes 39% of the operating funds 
used by local school systems. By contrast, the state of 
Florida provides about 53% of the money spent in the 
school systems of the various counties. 514 

Also, Davis told viewers, Duval County was the recipient 

of a higher percentage of school money than any other large 

county in the state. It was not the state' s fault Duval 

County schools were suffering: 

The real vacuum, of course, is in our local support 
of schools. In Duval, only 33% of the school budget is 
covered by local funds. Bear that 33% figure in mind as 
we compare it with other localities. 

In Dade County, the local share is 61%. In Broward, 
54%. In Orange County, 42% of the budget involves local 
money. In Pinellas County, the figure is 55%. 515 

Davis was continuing to build his case that systemic changes 

were needed in Jacksonville and Duval County. 

Davis revisited the topic of Jacksonville schools in 

March 1964, lauding the president of School Bootstrap Action, 

Inc., a group attempting to promote changes in the school 

system. The Bootstrap Action president had blamed business 

and professional leaders in the community who had chosen not 

to get involved in the school improvement effort. Davis 


514 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 13 December 1963. 

515 Ibid. 


One of the most disappointing aspects of the whole 
school debate has been the deliberate, willful absence 
of enough people who consider themselves leaders, in the 
front ranks of the fight to save our deteriorating 
school system. Warnings have filled the air — our 
schools an in imminent danger of losing their 
accreditation, responsible citizens and groups have 
sounded the emergency alarm over and over — but too many 
people are burying their heads in the sand and 
permitting the schools to suffer without registering 
even a protest. 516 

The editorials continued with a warning that the school 
system' s problems were also the problems of the community at 
large, including those with businesses in the Jacksonville 
area. Offices were remaining vacant; payrolls and new jobs 
were declining because people in other areas who might have 
moved to Jacksonville were being frightened off by the 
deteriorating school system, afraid that if they brought 
their children to Jacksonville, the youngsters would be 
thrust into a system that encouraged school dropouts and 
juvenile delinquency. In a plea to community leaders who had 
stayed out of the fray, Davis implored, "It may not be easy 
to stand up and be counted, but if ever we had a problem 
which called for courage we have it now." 517 

As school conditions worsened in Jacksonville, Davis 
kept the pressure on. Schools were his topic again in May 

516 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 4 March 1964. 

517 Ibid. 


1964. As he had in his last editorial comment on the 

subject, Davis told the community that the result of a 

substandard school system meant the los.s of jobs and income 

in Duval County. What was worse, he said, was the attitude 

that the system' s decline should be ignored because to talk 

too much about it would tarnish the county' s image: 

This is a brand of logic which may make sense for 
politicians, but it is suicidal for a community. The 
best possible shot-in-the-arm for our "image" would be 
an excellent school system, but we will never achieve 
that so long as we try to hide our problem like it was a 
sick relative. 518 

That changes in the administration of the school system 

were necessary became even clearer when on 2 December 1964, 

just as Davis and others had warned, the Southern Association 

of Colleges and Schools finally disaccredited Duval County 

schools. SACS Chairman Dr. Herman Frick of Florida State 

University said the schools had been disaccredited because 

they had failed to "correct major deficiencies caused by a 

lack of financial support." 519 Of the eight standards used by 

the SACS to judge a school system worthy of accreditation, 

Duval schools had failed to meet seven, including "having 

Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 28 May 1964. 


Charles Cook, "Duval Schools Disaccredited as SACS Rejects 
Final Appeal by Superintendent," Florida Times-Union, 3 
December 1964, 1. 


adequate hygienic conditions." 520 There is no editorial 
recorded for this date by Norm Davis, at least not in the 
material made available for this research. Given the record 
of Davis' editorials on the subject, however, it is likely 
that there was a Davis editorial on this subject in early 
December and that it urged improvement in the Duval County 
school system. 521 

Almost a year later, a joint decision by the current 
school superintendent, the school board, and the Duval County 
legislative delegation changed the Duval County school 
superintendent' s position from elective to appointive, just 
as Davis had recommended for two years. Davis was almost 

When some future historian records the steps taken 
by Duval County to rebound from the disastrous blow of 
school disaccreditation, the story will point to March 
17, 1965 as a red-letter day. Yesterda/ s announcement 
by school and legislative leaders that Duval will have 
an appointed school superintendent was a splendid move 
which will in time reap educational rewards for every 
school child in the system. . . . 

Henceforth, Duval County will no longer bear a 
stigma as the only school system among the 20 largest in 
the nation still using the antiquated method which 
requires the superintendent to be a politician as much 
as an educator. 522 

"7 SACS Standards Not Met by County," Florida Times-Union, 
3 December 1964, 27. 

Duval County schools were re-accredited by SACS in 197 9. 
Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 18 March 1965. 


A small battle had been won in the effort to rid Jacksonville 
and Duval County of its inefficient, corrupt form of 
government . 

Citv and County Servic es Deteriorate 

At the same time, the city-county sewer and storm system 
was deteriorating because of neglect. Some improvements 
within the city had been made, but none outside city limits. 
The soil and the water supply were contaminated. The problem 
was so great that it endangered "the public health of the 
entire county." 523 

Citizens of the county were complaining about inadequate 
police and fire protection, the high cost of government, 
soaring taxes, and a rising crime rate. County residents 
were also angered by a system that forced them to pay premium 
rates for electricity produced by the Jacksonville electric 
department, a system that paid for approximately 75 percent 
of the city's operating expenses. 524 These were compelling 
reasons for Jacksonville area residents to consider a better 
form of government, but history was not on the side of 

Blueprint for Improvement, Local Government Study 
Commission of Duval County, Jacksonville, 1966, 135. 

524 Ibid., 147. 


consolidation. Annexation had been voted down in 1963 and 
1964. Both referenda indicated that, although Jacksonville 
residents favored some form of combination of governments, 
Duval County voters were still resisting becoming city 

In January 1965, a group of community leaders, led by 
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce President Claude J. Yates, 
drafted a manifesto asking the legislature to approve a 
referendum for consolidation. 525 In April, the Florida 
Legislature approved a bill to authorize a study of 
Jacksonville area government. The move toward consolidation 
was still not in high gear, but results of the study were to 
be presented to the Duval County legislative delegation on 
March 1. J.J. Daniel was elected Study Commission chairman. 
Daniel named Lewis Alexander (Lex) Hester executive director 
of the Study Commission. The 30-year-old Hester believed, as 
did Daniel, that consolidation was the area's future. 526 

The legislative act that created the Study Commission 
had made it mandatory that local government leaders cooperate 
with the Commission by turning over details of the workings 
and finances of their individual governments. Although some 

Martin, Consolidation, 54. 

526 Ibid., 58-61. 


leaders of local governments acknowledged that reform was 
necessary, there was reluctance to provide full details of 
how their governments worked. There was still fear of being 
swallowed up, losing autonomy, and becoming taxpayers to a 
system that would use tax money for improvements in other 
communities. At public hearings held in the communities of 
Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune 
Beach, resistance from the voting public and from local 
government leaders was obvious. After one such hearing, 
rimes Union reporter Tom Hoey wrote, "If there are any 
people in Neptune Beach who favor countywide consolidation, 
they failed to show up at what was described as 'an old- 
fashioned town meeting 7 Thursday night in City Hall." 527 
People already in government in both the county and the city 
had mixed reactions. Some were cautiously approving of a 
change of government; some were opposed because they feared 
they would lose their jobs if consolidation became a 
political fact. 528 

Tom Hoey, "Most Neptune Residents at Meet Oppose Merger," 
Times-Union, July 14, 1967, B-l. 

Florida Times-Union, "Two Members of Council Endorse 
Consolidation," July 12, 1997, B-l. 


The wjxt- tv iggsafciaatians 

With politics, fear of loss of autonomy, and despair 
over the state of Jacksonville area services, there was 
another force at work. In 1965, WJXT-TV began a series of 
investigations and editorials criticizing government and 
exposing illegal activity. Following one documentary on the 
shortcomings of area law enforcement, the City of 
Jacksonville called in the International Association of 
Chiefs of Police to study the Jacksonville Police Department. 
The study corroborated the findings of WJXT. 529 

The station produced another documentary called 
"Government by Gaslight." 530 The name, "Gaslight," was chosen 
to illustrate that area government was outdated and 
inefficient and it was time for the area to bring its system 
of government up to date. "Gaslight" illustrated the 
overlapping governmental agencies within the city and county. 
It showed the waste in the redundant governmental structure. 
"Gaslight" demonstrated redundancies in many city and county 
agencies, including police, fire, sewer, prison, insurance 

Richard Martin, Quiet Revolution, 72. 


Aired 10 May 10 1965 and again on 2 August 1965. Also 
l°T ^ !f ri ° US ClViC ^therings. Copy of program in 
^searcher- s possession (provided by The Louis Wolfson Media 
History Center at the Miami-Dade Public Library) 


and vehicle maintenance. The program showed that the two tax 
assessors' offices sometimes had different estimates of the 
value of the same piece of property. The system, according 
to "Gaslight," caused not only duplication of departments, 
but also a lack of service for county residents. Although 
there was a building code in the city, there was none in the 
county. Although there was a library in the city, there was 
none in the county. Although there was a sewage treatment 
system in the city, there was none in the county. Drivers 
could become very confused if they were unaware of crossing 
the city line; right on red was allowed in the city, but not 
in the county. 531 

WJXT also told viewers that a majority of city employees 
lived outside the city, and, therefore, paid no city taxes, 
although their paychecks came from the city. The city 
airport was in the county. City sewage dumped into the St. 
John' s river flowed across the city boundary into the county. 
The tone of the program was "if you live in the county, you 
are being shortchanged." This was an important point because 
it was county voters who had always been, and who were 
expected to be, the voters most resistant to changing 

Z g l G stT^ nt ^ GaSlight '" "P~*1 a-ed °n WJXT-TV, 2 


Jacksonville area government. Toward the end of "Gaslight," 
WJXT editorialized: 

Perhaps the most serious symptoms of our 
governmental disease are political symptoms. Take the 
matter of political responsibility; within the complex 
layers of government in Duval County, buck-passing has 
become a way of life. The voter who wants to fix blame 
is confronted by a bewildering array of officials, all 
pointing their fingers at each other. The citizen who 
wants a job done often has to be a detective to track 
down the proper man to do it . 

There' s confusion between city and county on 
responsibility, and confusion within each one. 
Jacksonville, with its council and commission has a two- 
headed government no other city on earth has seen fit to 

Duval' s scrambled government penalizes the 
individual too. Much good political talent lives out in 
the suburbs, disfranchised, unable to take part in the 
governmental life of the central city. 

On the other hand, a multitude of people outside the 
city contribute heavily to various city budgets, through 
electric revenues, airport concessions, Gator Bowl 
tickets, but an accident of geography denies these 
people any voice in deciding how these millions of 
dollars will be spent. This is taxation without 
representation, pure and simple. 532 

"Gaslight" was not the last time WJXT viewers heard of 

the confusing city-county system of government in the area. 

Several months after the program was broadcast, and after it 

had made the rounds of various civic groups, Davis observed: 

Much has been said of the bewildering structure of 
government within the City of Jacksonville, the bizarre 
Council-Mayor-Commission arrangement which causes 
political scientists and ordinary citizens alike to 
shake their heads in consternation. But keeping track 


of the seats of authority and responsibility in county 
government requires a scorecard which is even more 

County government, remember, was devised in the last 
century when Florida' s population lived in rural areas 
and very small towns, but today this loosely-connected 
cluster of boards, authorities, and officials is being 
forced to grapple with the enormous task of providing 
urban services for a huge metropolitan area." 


Davis sympathized with voters who faced ballots that 
included more than sixty offices in Duval County, in addition 
to state and city offices. It was impossible, he said, to 
know what the duties of all of these offices were. It was 
unlikely that one in ten thousand voters knew what he/she was 
voting for on election day. The system worked against 
informed participation in government by the citizenry. 534 

The editorial also charged that there would be no 

willing attempts from within the system to change it: 

It goes without saying that virtually every 
officeholder in the court house will band with his 
colleagues to resist any change that might affect him, 
however ineffective the overall system may be. The 
Local Government Study Commission of Duval County has 
the difficult duty of cutting through whatever layers of 
self-interest may prevail to get at the root causes of 
confusing, costly, and ineffective local government. 535 

Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 25 March 1966. 

Davis expressed hope that the Study Commission would be 
able to come up with recommendations for a new form of 
government in the area that would be efficient, responsive, 
and understandable. 536 

Two weeks later, it was the city-run electric power 
system under the Davis editorial gun. Davis told viewers 
that the city was running one of the largest municipally 
owned power systems in America, with an annual budget of $50 
million— larger than all other city expenditures combined. 
Although the entire City Commission, according to the city 
charter, was supposed to be supervising the power company, in 
truth it was run by just one person, the budget commissioner. 
The system that had evolved under Jacksonville' s form of 
government was "You run your departments, I'll run mine." 537 

Making matters worse, said Davis, was that under the 
then current system, the city had a monopoly on electric 
power for the entire area-unfair to those who lived outside 
the city limits because they had no say in electing city 
commissioners, including the budget commissioner. Davis 
commented, "This is a thoroughly illogical state of affairs 

Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 11 April 1966. 


which subjects a majority of electric customers to the 

dictates of a minority." 538 

The "illogical state of affairs" was another example of 

an outmoded, inefficient form of government in Jacksonville 

and Duval County, a system that needed change: 

Since electric service is a countywide function it 
should in some manner be responsive to voters throughout 
the county. And because the provision of electric 
service is a technical and highly-complex operation 
involving immense sums of public money, some provision 
should be made for vesting policy decisions in a board 
of directors of some type which would have both the time 
and the ability to effectively supervise such a huge 
operation. We urge the local Government Study 
Commission to give this matter a high priority in its 
examination of governmental problems in Duval County. 539 

WJXT discovered another weakness in the Duval County 

bidding system, the subject of Davis' editorial on 18 May. 

Duval County had been paying 10.47 cents per gallon for 

asphalt supplied by Peninsula Asphalt. Peninsula had been 

the only bidder on county paving jobs for three years. Yet, 

WJXT, conducting an informal bid process of its own, had 

found other companies with prices as much as one-and-a-half 

cents lower per gallon than Peninsula. Davis tried to 

calculate the losses to taxpayers: 

538 Ibid. 

539 Ibid. 


The substance of all this is that Duval county' s 
bidding procedures have produced a price which is higher 
than the going rate to private business and at least one 
other county. It is impossible to calculate the tax 
money that has been wasted on asphalt in recent years, 
but with purchases of more than four million gallons 
involved, the loss must run into the thousands of 
dollars. 540 

The Commission soon announced it was planning to re- 
advertise for bids on asphalt, but only after WJXT had 
exposed a "weird set of circumstances which the commissioners 
have failed to explain." 541 The weird set of circumstances to 
which the editorial referred was the overpayment for asphalt 
when it appeared a straightforward system of competitive 
bidding would have led to substantial savings for the county. 

The confusing array of governmental bodies in the city 
and county gave Davis and WJXT several other targets. On 15 
August 1966, Davis turned his attention again to the 
Jacksonville City Commission: "If the amount of money wasted 
by the City of Jacksonville over the years on automobiles, 
insurance, electric utility poles, kerosene, and sundry other 
items could somehow be totaled, the figure would be 

Davis said the grand jury had confirmed that 

Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 18 May 1966. 
Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 15 August 1966. 


the City Commission was responsible for "inexcusable 

conditions," but the City Council also shared blame because 

the Council approved the budget submitted by the 

Commission. 543 

The editorials and documentaries were intended to educate 

voters about government. WJXT' s investigative reports added 

punch. 544 Each of the three elements was used to reinforce 

the others. In February 1965, WJXT reported on mismanagement 

of the city" s automobile fleet. The cars were being bought 

without competitive bidding, were more expensive than they 

should have been and were frequently used for the private 

business of ranking city employees. On the evening newscasts 

on Friday, 9 April 1965, editorial director Norm Davis said: 

A series of special reports by WJXT News on the City 
of Jacksonville' s automobile fleet has delineated an 
incredible picture of extravagance and poor policy, 
which seems to be a casually accepted feature within the 

543 Generally speaking, the City Council was responsible for 
overall, city-wide issues, such as the budget; city 
commissioners were responsible for specific areas of city 
spending, such as highways and utilities. There were five 
city commissioners, nine city council members. Additionally, 
there were Duval County offices to consider. It is easy to 
understand why Davis had said in an earlier editorial that 
only one in 10 thousand voters was likely to understand the 
ballot. This confusing governmental setup may have made it 
difficult for viewers to understand Davis' editorials, but it 
is also likely that very confusion served to reinforce the 
perception that consolidation was needed. 


city administration. The taxpayers of Jacksonville 
literally are being taken for a million-dollar ride 
which, by any reasonable standard, should cost less. 

The city has enough luxury cars to accommodate a 
battalion of visiting potentates. . . . These high- 
priced prestige cars are parceled out like ripe plums to 
department heads and lower ranking employees while the 
City seemingly looks down its nose at less expensive 
models. . . . 

At least two Commissioners frankly concede that they 
favor their friends with the City' s car business. . . . 

Commissioner Smith has acknowledged that a saving of 
$200,000 is possible if a different system were in use, 
and we believe that even greater economies are within 

The central question at this point is whether the 
most efficient management of the public' s business is 
being realized. . . . 

Or is $200,000 petty cash which is not worth getting 
excited about? 5,15 

In another editorial several days later, WJXT 

highlighted some of the problems with the layers of 

government in Jacksonville: 

The Jacksonville City Council prides itself on being 
a watchdog over the city' s financial affairs, but on the 
matter of extravagance and poor policy concerning 
Jacksonville' s automobile fleet the watchdog has put its 
tail between its legs and slipped away. 

WJXT News sampled the views of five Council members 
on such questions as the absence of formal competitive 
bidding on car purchases and the widespread use of 
luxury cars and expensive accessories by department 
heads and lower-ranking employees. To a man, those 
Councilmen interviewed passed the buck to the City 
Commission. Council President Clyde Cannon' s remarks 
were typical. "We have nothing to do with it," he said. 
"We' re the appropriating group and they are the 
administrators." . . . 


Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 9 April 1965. 


It is plain that the Council is afraid to tangle 
with the Commission on the question of automobiles, and 
the net effect is that the highly-touted check-and- 
balance system is just an empty phrase. We might even 
wonder, under such conditions, whether the need for 
separate legislative and administrative bodies is 
real. 546 

The next week, another Davis editorial on the city' s 

automobile purchasing practices highlighted a three-page 

letter from Council Attorney Harry Fozzard to Council 

President Cecil Lowe. Fozzard had written that City 

Commission decisions on the purchase and use of city 

automobiles were not the Council' s business. Davis used that 

position to continue to build his case for streamlining 

government. Davis said, "[ I] f they are not the Council' s 

business, then we ask again whether there really is need for 

a separate legislative arm in the city." 5 ' 17 

Davis told WJXT viewers it was within the Council' s 

power to reduce money for budgeted items submitted by the 

Commission, or to delete those items from the budget 

altogether. However, said Davis, Council members were guilty 

of shirking their responsibility: 

This is precisely the power that makes the Council a 
watchdog over the city's financial mess. It is highly 
significant that disclosures of lavish spending on city 

546 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 16 April 1965. 

547 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 22 April 1965. 


automobiles have not produced any visible concerns on 
the part of the City Council. . . . 

Not only has the watchdog been caught with its tail 
between its legs, it seems to want to leave it there. 548 

Within a week, the City Council had responded to the 

pressure to exercise some control over budget matters, 

writing two ordinances and a resolution to produce a city car 

pool, along with other changes in budget procedures. Davis 

congratulated commissioners but kept the pressure on: 

As far as they go, the new procedures will make 
inroads on a spoils system which has prospered at 
taxpayer expense for a great many years. And yet the 
biggest hole in the dike through which tax dollars can 
continue to flow has not yet been plugged. Neither the 
Commission nor the Council has taken any overt steps to 
alter a policy which has condoned the purchase of more 
than a hundred high-priced luxury cars and a long list 
of expensive accessories for these and other vehicles. 
In spite of all the rules adopted this week, there is no 
overall policy which requires the use of compact cars 
and other lower-priced vehicles and no regulation of the 
purchase of costly "extras" throughout the automobile 

Davis urged taxpayers to become concerned about a city 

policy of providing automobile allowances to more than 200 

employees, even though some of those employees did not use 

cars in their work. There were also sixty-nine city 

employees with gasoline credit cards, said Davis, who would 

not need those cards if the city put new rules into effect. 

Davis wrote that it was encouraging the Council had finally 

548 Ibid. 


taken some action and it was now time to take similar action 

on other serious problems in the city. 

The WJXT editorial criticism of Jacksonville' s vehicle 

fleet practices was not over. The 6 May editorial said the 

surface had only been scratched and then went on to deplore 

the actions of some city commissioners who had arranged for 

city cars to be bought from their friends without competitive 


Throughout all of this, a not unusual reaction from 
the officials has been to point the finger of blame at 
somebody else or to register shock that any criticism 
should arise. Many unsound procedures have been 
defended not only on the grounds of their having been 
used for many years and not because of an inherent 
value. In some cases, the law has been looked on as 
something to be applied when convenient . As one 
commissioner put it to the legislative delegation, "We 
feel like we have not been violating the intent of the 
law — except in a few instances like buying cars." 55 

Competitive bidding came up again when the City of 

Jacksonville purchased a $55,000 crane-truck from a 

Jacksonville area company. The city had not bothered to ask 

vendors for bids. Once again, officials were trying to use 

the system to duck blame: 

Pinning down responsibility for the deal has been 
like trying to catch an agitated ping-pong ball. 
Commissioner Broadstreet has disclaimed any part in the 

549 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 29 April 1965. 

550 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 6 May 1965. 


arrangement, saying it was executed while Mayor Ritter 
was still Commissioner of highways and sewers. The 
Mayor, meanwhile, has turned up a letter signed by 
Broadstreet in January 1965 which closed the deal for 
the city with the local supplier. Yet at the time the 
negotiations took place, Ritter was the elected official 
in charge and Broadstreet was employed as city engineer, 
which seems to plant the responsibility for policy 

Furthermore, commented Davis, there was no agreement 
among city officials over whether the crane had been leased 
or purchased. Various offices within the city were offering 
differing opinions on the transaction. If the lease 
assertion was true, the city would have paid out almost the 
full price of the crane-truck by the end of the first year' s 
lease, and would have nothing to show for it, making it "the 
most unbelievably expensive lease we've ever heard of." 552 

By taking competitive bids for a crane-truck three 
months after the deal had been closed, city officials had 
made themselves look even more corrupt than they might have 
if they had simply admitted making the transaction without 
competitive bidding. 

WJXT also produced a series of reports on the insurance 
purchasing policies of Jacksonville. 553 The city 7 s insurance 

551 Norm Davis, WJXT Editorial, 11 March 1966. 

552 Ibid. 


premiums would amount to $1.3 million for 1966. That was 
more than the combined insurance premiums for Miami, Tampa, 
and St. Petersburg. WJXT called for a grand jury 
investigation. The station criticized the grand jury' s lack 
of action up to that point, and there was criticism by the 
station of other Jacksonville media, which had failed to 
shine light into the dark recesses of local government. 554 

The Grand Jury 
On 16 May 1966, Circuit Court Judge Marion Gooding also 
called for a grand jury investigation. He asked that the 
charges brought by WJXT be investigated. It is not clear if 
he specifically mentioned WJXT. Florida Times-Union reporter 
Richard Martin has indicated Gooding did refer to WJXT. 
However, another Times-Union reporter, J.C. Green, wrote: 
"Judge Gooding didn't say so, but the probe was obviously 
inspired by a recent series of programs on television station 
WJXT, Channel 4, mainly accusing officials of wrongdoing." 555 

Martin Waldron, "TV Station Stirs Florida Inquiry," New 
York Times, July 31, 1966. News director Bill Grove was 
quoted as saying of the 011/ s two major newspapers, "They 
simply were not doing the job in the community." 

555 J.C. Green, "Grand Jury Probe Into Alleged City Waste Is 
Ordered," Florida Times-Union, 28 May 1966, A-l. 


In either case, the WJXT reports clearly helped bring about 

the grand jury* s investigation. 

In its first presentment, on 30 June, the grand jury 

reiterated what WJXT had said in the station' s reports on 

Jacksonville' s insurance practices. The grand jury laid the 

blame squarely at the feet of city officials, saying: 

Manifestly, such excessive cost is a flagrant and 
shocking waste of public funds, which unwarranted 
expenditure is directly chargeable to the inexcusable 
neglect and lack of concern evidenced by our city 
commissioners. ... We want to make it clear we are not 
criticizing a simple mistake or an error in human 
judgment. We are condemning a calculated course of 
conduct indulged in by the commissioners...with the 
apparent full knowledge that it was contrary to the best 
interest of the taxpayers and citizens. 

So far, there were no indictments. 556 
The Indictments 

The first indictments came on 22 July 1966. Thirteen 
indictments were brought against two city councilmen and a 
former recreation department employee. The charges were 
larceny, conspiracy, and perjury. The three men had 
allegedly bought television sets, watches, and other items 
for their own use and charged the merchandise to the 
Recreation Department. The three were also accused of lying 

5 Richard Crouse, "Commission Flayed on City Insurance; 
Jurors Condemn Actions," Times-Union, 1 July 1966, A-l. 


to the grand jury when they had appeared. 55 Other 
indictments would follow. 

On 12 August, jurors issued another report. There were 
no indictments at this time, but the grand jury was critical 
of almost the entire government of Jacksonville, accusing 
city officials of wasting taxpayers' money, especially in the 
purchasing and use of city cars. There was no poor judgment, 
according to the grand jury; there was willful disregard of 
the public interest. Many city officials had used the local 
government as a personal source of income. 

Corn Patch Camp 
City Commissioner Dallas Thomas resigned when the grand 
jury began investigating his alleged use of city vehicles and 
other property for his own use, especially his use of city 
equipment at his hunting getaway, called "Corn Patch Camp." 
WJXT had sent reporter John Thomas and Director Windsor 
Bissell to the camp to determine if reports of Commissioner 
Thomas' use of city property at his camp were true. Bissell 
recalled in 1997 that he and reporter Thomas had gone to 
"Corn Patch Camp," in Nassau County. They had heard that 

Martin, Consolidation, 82. 

J.C. Green, "Grand Jury Bl; 
Use," Times-Union, 13 August 1966, A-l. 

558 J.C. Green, "Grand Jury Blasts City in Car Purchases, 


city commissioner Dallas Thomas was using city equipment and 

city prisoners at the camp. Bissell explained: 

We stumbled into their camp saying we needed 
gasoline for a vehicle or something of the sort, and he 
had a big tent and a house out there and everything. 
And, sure enough, there were some prisoners in there who 
were cooking food for the campers. They were trustees, 
I'm sure, but you could tell they were prisoners. They 
still had the garb on. There was a city tractor on the 
property; it still had its city tag on it. There was a 
city truck pulled up there. I guess it was used for 
hauling stuff. Everything we' d heard was true and we 
got film of it. 559 

Then, several days later, Bissell and John Thomas went 

to "The 'E* Farm," the city prison. 

We couldn' t go there and say, "We came here to look 
for the tractor." We had some other excuse for being on 
the "P" Farm. The guy was showing us around and showing 
us how they slaughtered the pigs and made hams. He'd 
even tell us they handed the hams out to the 
commissioners every Christmas. And, sure enough, there 
was the tractor. They'd brought it back in. We got 
film of it. 560 

Reporter Thomas remembered it much the same way: 

I' 11 never forget. We took a videographer, or 
photographer at the time; it was deep in the woods. We 
went up there in my car because it was not a marked news 
car. I remember the fear we had going in there, some of 
the looks from some of the local people who were 
watching us in these back woods heading toward that 
lodging camp. 561 

559 Interview with Windsor Bissell in Atlantic Beach on 
October 10, 1997. 

560 Ibid. 

561 Interview with John Thomas in Tallahassee on 8 November 


While on a dirt road on the way to the Corn Patch Camp, 

Thomas saw a tractor coming toward him. Thomas recalled, "I 

thought the fellow was going to ram me and push me through 

the woods because he was very antagonistic and apparently he 

was a caretaker for Commissioner Thomas." 

Reporter Thomas and Bissell crept up to the hunting 

camp, looked inside several huge tents that had been set up, 

and saw dozens of bunk beds that had "City Prison Farm" 

labels on them, and there were other items of city property. 

"We started looking at refrigerators and gas grills and 

everything seemed to have a city label on it." 

In subsequent visits, Thomas and other investigators 

spotted city prisoners doing the cooking and cleaning at the 

camp. There was even heavy machinery "borrowed" from the 

City Prison Farm. 

The most obvious thing that caught our eye when we 
first went there and let us know right away we were on 
the right track, this was accurate, what we were 
trailing — at least one, as I recall, city truck, a dump 
truck, was there and the city logo was emblazoned boldly 
on the door and we filmed that. And there was a tractor 
there as I recall, maybe a front-end loader or some kind 
of a back hoe. That had a city logo all over it. The 
thing about it was, it was so blatant. 564 

562 Ibid. 

563 Ibid. 

564 Ibid. 


The next time Thomas remembered seeing the machinery was when 
he visited the city prison farm. He speculated that 
caretakers at the farm saw him and his photographer 
"snooping around." 565 

The John Thomas report on WJXT laid it all out for the 
viewer. After setting up the background of the story and how 
the reporters got to the camp, Thomas said: 

WJXT reporters found on Commissioner Thomas' s camp 
this [ film] dump truck bearing city license tag number 
5062. According to records at the city garage, the 
truck is owned by the City of Jacksonville and is 
assigned to the Agriculture Department, which is also 
under the direction of Commissioner Thomas. . . . 

On another trip made into Nassau County, to Dallas 
Thomas' s "Corn Patch Camp," WJXT reporters spotted this 
[film] $5,000 Pontiac Bonneville with city license tag 
number 4966. 566 

Commissioner Thomas told the reporters later that he 

took his city-assigned car on personal (hunting) business 

because it was equipped with a two-way radio, and he did not 

want to be out of reach in the event of an emergency. He 

also said no other equipment had been used at his hunting 

camp. Yet, the reporters went to the camp on 14 December and 

filmed a farm tractor. The John Thomas report said, "The 

565 Ibid. 

566 Script of a WJXT "Special Report" obtained from Norm 
Davis. Script is undated, but obviously the story ran soon 
after 14 December. The [ film] designations were in the 
original script and indicated where film began and ended. 


same tractor was filmed again today, this time back in its 
shed at the city prison farm, which, incidentally, is only 
twenty-odd miles from Commissioner Thomas' s hunting camp." 
Thomas also recounts that city officials used prisoners to 
landscape their yards. WJXT filmed that, too, and later 
broadcast the film. 568 

The following August, Commissioner Thomas was indicted 
on forty counts of grand larceny. The indictment said he had 
stolen almost $24,000 from the city in the previous five 
years. Then, City Auditor John W. Hollister, Jr., was 
indicted, also for grand larceny. City Council President Lem 
Sharp refused to waive immunity in his testimony before the 
grand jury. He complained, "It seems most peculiar that for 
selfish profit or gain our news media would be a party to 
costing the taxpayers of this city hundreds of thousands of 
dollars in adverse publicity concerning matters that the 
grand jury itself admits there is nothing wrong with." 569 

The statement was nonsensical because Sharp was reacting 
to grand jury criticism of his refusal to waive immunity. 
Less than two weeks after the statement, Sharp was indicted 

Thomas interview. 
568 Ibid. 

569 Jacksonville Journal, October 6, 1966. 


for stealing more than $8,500 from the city. The next day, 
on 21 October, city commissioner Claude Smith, Jr., was 
booked into county jail on bribery charges. He had allegedly 
accepted more than $13 thousand to influence his actions, 
particularly in city purchases of heavy equipment. 571 

When the grand jury term ended, two of Jacksonville' s 
five city commissioners had been indicted; four of nine city 
councilmen had been indicted; the city auditor and the city 
recreation chief had been indicted. The tax assessor had 
resigned. 571 It was an impressive record for the grand jury, 
and for the television station generally acknowledged as 
being responsible for the grand jury investigation. 

Grand jury members made it clear in their final report 
what they thought should happen next: "We recommend a 
complete revision of the governmental structure of the City 
of Jacksonville." 572 

What The P eople Involved Say About WJXT' s Role 

Hans Tanzler was mayor of Jacksonville in the period 
immediately preceding consolidation, as well as during the 
period immediately following consolidation. He was first 

570 Martin, Consolidation, 88. 

571 Ibid. 

572 Ibid. 


elected on 23 June 1967 in the wake of the indictments 

against Jacksonville city officials, defeating incumbent 

mayor Lou Ritter by a margin of 7-2. 573 He had ridden a 

reputation as a tough, fair judge in Duval County Criminal 

Court and a public disquietude with government into office. 

He was in the unusual position of favoring a new government 

plan that would mean he would have to run again for office 

within a few months of his victory. Nonetheless, he made his 

approval of consolidation known. Tanzler' s imprimatur was a 

factor in the eventual consolidation victory. However, 

Tanzler said in 1997 that had it not been for WJXT, 

consolidation would have never "gotten off the ground." The 

WJXT investigations, said Tanzler, were key to the 

consolidation process. Tanzler put it this way: 

Without that [ the WJXT investigations] , they 
probably wouldn' t ever have gotten around to even 
signing the petition manifesto to the legislature to 
reform the government. There wasn' t enough righteous 
indignation to rise up and extricate themselves from the 
morass. ... It started with the investigation that 
ended up with the indictments and the disaccreditation 
and all the rest of the business. The impetus, the 
genesis would probably have never taken place. No 
reason for it." 57,1 

Personal conversation with former Mayor Tanzler, 7 
November 1997. 


Richard Martin, in his book, Consolidation: 

Jacksonville, Duval County, published in 1968, acknowledged 


[ T] hroughout 1965 and 1966 support for local 
governmental reform in Jacksonville and Duval County 
came most strongly and vocally from television station 
WJXT (owned by Washington Post-Newsweek interests). 
When Claude Yates summoned community leaders to draw up 
the manifesto calling for consolidation in 1965, WJXT 
gave vigorous and unqualified editorial support to the 
proposal." 575 

WJXT News Director Bill Grove told Martin in 1968: 

From our point of view, support of consolidation was 
simply a continuation of something we tried to start 
back around 1960. In our judgment all local media at 
that time, including another television station and two 
daily newspapers were under common ownership, were 
glossing over the essential problems of the metropolitan 
area by generally ignoring them in their editorials and 
by contenting themselves with superficial reporting of 
the news." 576 

Martin also acknowledged that WJXT was an important 
force in consolidation. He wrote in Consolidation: "They 
were very important. I think they got the whole ball rolling 
and alerted the community to some of the problems." 577 

Martin stated in Consolidation that citizen reaction to 
municipal scandals and corruption can be ruled out as the 

575 Martin, Consolidation, 76. 

576 Quoted in Ibid., 76 

Personal conversation with Richard Martin, 15 October 


"major element in the consolidation referendum." By 

implication, WJXT could be ruled out as the major element in 

the consolidation referendum. It is apparent he believed he 

and the rimes-Union were more critical, if not the most 

critical, factors in the successful campaign for 

consolidation. Martin said, "I was brought in the first of 

January 1967. It was going along before that and I picked it 

up and ran away with it, I think, but none of the other 

facilities had the power or the impact that the Times Union 

had back then." 579 Martin said he was not only working for 

the newspaper, but he had also been "brought in" by the 

Consolidation Study Commission to promote consolidation. 

Martin recalled that his involvement with the consolidation 

campaign began this way: 

I was down at Silver Springs doing PR work at the 
time and I watched the papers and all of a sudden they 
started printing little excerpts from "The Blueprint for 
Improvement," which was the Study Commission' s plan for 
consolidation and what would happen. 

But Martin complained that the "little excerpts" were not 

being placed properly in the paper, that they were not 

effective. He then wrote a letter to J.J. Daniel, the 

chairman of the study commission, saying: 

5,8 Martin, Consolidation, 234. 
579 Martin Interview. 


'If you' re going to do it this way, you can forget it.' 
I told him how it should be handled and what should be 
done and they hired me away from Silver Springs on a 
special contract to ramrod a more dynamic campaign and 
from that minute on I was churning out copy every day 
and eventually it got so hot that I was placing the copy 
where I wanted in the paper. I wrote an occasional 
editorial and placed it on the front page. I had 
complete autonomy in running this campaign and the whole 
of the media joined in, all of the TV and radio stations 
and so forth. 580 

That is not the way former WJXT employees remember the 

years and months leading up to the 1967 consolidation vote. 

Editorial Director Norm Davis said in 1999 he felt "all alone 

out there," and he said this about the role the Times-Union 

was playing in revealing government corruption: 

I don' t want to malign Richard Martin. I sure as 
hell will malign the Florida Times-Union. ...In those 
days, it was a disgrace to the industry. In that 
period, the '50s and '60s, the Florida Times-Union was 
just a rag because it didn' t begin to try to fill its 
role as a news medium. It was beholden to too many 
other interests and Channel 4 [ WJXT] was beholden to 
nobody. I think it was owned by the railroad, as I 
recall. Also the people who ran the paper just didn't 
have the courage to get out and do the hard things. It 
was not easy to get out and do what Channel 4 did. It 
sounds, as you look back on it, like a lark, but it was 
nothing of the kind. It was very difficult and 
demanding and emotionally draining kind of work. To do 
good journalism is hard work and when you' re doing 
exposes like that in a community that hardly knew what 
the word meant, it was doubly difficult, and you were 
all alone out there. That station when it was doing 
these things was all by itself, in terms of media and in 
terms of community institutions. There were a lot of 
good people at work who applauded us and helped a great 


deal and sent us materials and things like that, but the 
institutions of the community were not responsive to 
these problems. Now, once stuff began to be laid bare 
on the record then the rimes-Union began to wake up and 
they certainly printed all the big stories about the 
grand jury and the indictments and the scandals at City 
Hall and all that, but they were just reporting on stuff 

Davis recalled that the other major television station 
in town, WFGA, was also just a bystander in the effort to 
uncover unscrupulous behavior in area government. Davis 
said, "They were just reporting fires and burglaries and 
drownings and fireworks displays." 582 

Windsor Bissell said, also in 1997, that WFGA did not do 

anything investigative because the roster of its board of 

directors read like the Chamber of Commerce. He told it this 


They weren't going to rock the boat. They were doing 
lots of animal stories, and so on, but nothing 
investigative. The newspaper didn' t do anything. It 
was owned by the railroad. Some of the City Council 
members worked for the railroad. 583 

John Thomas remembered the same railroad connection 

between Jacksonville' s newspapers, the Times Union and the 

581 Interview with Norm Davis, 6 October 1997. 


Jacksonville Journal, which published morning and afternoon 

respectively. Thomas confirmed Bissell' s words: 

As far as I' m concerned, the newspapers in the town 
were owned lock, stock and barrel by the railroads, the 
Atlantic Coast Line, the Seabord and the Flagler System. 
They owned all the stock of the newspapers, two of them 
there, the Jacksonville Journal and the Times Union and 
as far as we were concerned, they were not doing the job 
they should have been doing. They were glossing over 
most of these things. 584 

Thomas also remembered that there was widespread 

disapproval in the conservative Jacksonville business 

community of a television station that was "stirring up all 

this trouble." Thomas recalled that, at first, WJXT was on 

its own in exposing illegal activities by elected and 

appointed officials, that he and other reporters at the 

station were sometimes afraid to turn the keys in their 

automobile ignitions when they left work at night. He felt, 

however, that it was the work of WJXT that made the 

difference between victory and defeat for Jacksonville 

consolidation. "I believe to this day," said Thomas, 

that if there hadn' t been such widespread corruption 
exposed and publicly on the airwaves because people were 
now really turning to television for their news more and 
more and right into their home every night and so very 
dramatic, and I really don' t think that people...could 
have been swayed in favor of consolidation had it not 
been for the exposure. People just got fed up. 585 



What Others Have Said About WJXT' s Role 
Martin' s view that the role played by WJXT was of less 
import than other factors has been refuted not only by those 
who were working for the station at the time but also by 
newspapers and magazine reports on the issues swirling around 
Jacksonville government. The Clearwater Sun reported that 
WJXT' s work stood out like a "lighthouse for good 
government." 586 Today (Cocoa) credited WJXT with triggering 
the investigative mechanism of the grand jury. 587 The Fort 
Lauderdale Sun called WJXT' s efforts "the beginning of the 
end for the old government." The Sun also noted that it was 
the television station, and not the other media in 
Jacksonville, that climbed on the story first. 588 

The Radio-Television News Directors Association Bulletin 
called the newspapers of Jacksonville "sleepy and timid" and 
applauded WJXT' s reports that by September of 1966 had led to 

"If s the Silly Season Again," Editorial, Clearwater Sun, 
19 April 1967. 

Walker Lundy, "An Aggressive Grand Jury Drops Political 
Bombs," Cocoa (Today), 30 October, 1966. 

Anne Kolb, "Business Led Duval, Jax Union," Fort 
Lauderdale Sun, Vol. 59, No. 145 (date unreadable on 
researcher' s copy) . 


the indictments of three city officials. 589 A WJXT press 

release from 1967 quoted stories complimentary to the station 

in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Miami Herald, The St. 

Petersburg Times, Backstage and other publications. For 

instance, Newsweek magazine said: 

Long rife with rumors of deep municipal corruption, 
Jacksonville had never seen the likes of this before. 
That it saw it at all was due almost entirely to the 
consistent policy of hard-hitting reporting practiced by 
station WJXT. 590 

There were letters from viewers, noting that WJXT had 

stood alone in exposing government malfeasance. John 

Gaillard of Jacksonville wrote: 

The public conscience of Jacksonville, Florida has at 
last grown some vocal chords. While the local 
newspapers continue to peddle government inspected (and 
approved) pap, and the radios "bop" themselves to 
oblivion, WJXT has chosen to face forthrightly the 
uncomfortable facts of Jacksonville life. 591 

A member of the legislature, who was later to become 

governor of the state, wrote to News Director Bill Grove to 

589 Edward W. Barrett, "Once Opposed, Columbia Dean Okays 
Editorials," RTNDA Bulletin, September 1966. 


Press release from WJXT, 1967, made available by Mary 

Grove, Mister Grove' s widow 

591 John Gaillard to WJXT, 1 July 1960. Copy in researcher' s 
possession, provided by Norman Davis. 


praise the station for its efforts. State Representative 

Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., said in his brief letter: 

Just a note to congratulate you and Norm Davis on the 
recognition that your station has received from Newsweek 
and TV Guide for the series that you have been doing on 
City and County Government .... I wonder how long the 
paper is going to sit back and let you do all of the 
work. 593 

All three of the former WJXT journalists interviewed for 

this research said Grove was the driving force behind the 

station' s efforts, the one who made sure the investigations 

continued, even when there was pressure to back off. Norm 

Davis said: 

I was a young guy and none of us knew what we were 
doing. We just had to go do it. When things began to 
heat up, it took some real courage to stand up to the 
heat and Bill stood right up and taught me what courage 
was all about. He was the linchpin in all this. I was 
just the guy out there firing the guns, but Bill was the 
guy plotting the strategy." 594 

The evidence seems to refute Richard Martin' s view that 

WJXT' s investigative reports were not of key importance in 

approval of consolidation by Jacksonville area voters. 

Lawton Chiles moved on to the Florida State Senate in 
1966, the U. S. Senate in 1970, and was elected governor of 
Florida in 1990, serving in that post until his death in 

State Representative, Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., to Bill 
Grove, 26 September 1966. Copy provided by Norm Davis. 

594 Davis interview, 6 October 1997 


Newspaper, magazine and journal reports from the time period 

give WJXT the lion' s share of credit for spurring the 

community and community leaders to action. Examination of 

the Florida Times-Union reveals no record of other media in 

Jacksonville presenting investigative reports until after 

WJXT had taken a long lead. Martin said that in 1965 and 


[ S] upport for local governmental reform in Jacksonville 
and Duval County came most strongly and vocally from 
television station WJXT (owned by Washington Post- 
Newsweek interests) . When Claude Yates summoned 
community leaders to draw up the manifesto calling for 
consolidation in 1965, WJXT gave vigorous and 
unqualified editorial support to the proposal." 595 

Citations of Martin' s newspaper articles in 

Consolidation are all after 1966. He stated that he did not 

start working on consolidation until January 1967. Citations 

for Times-Union articles indicate that the newspaper was, as 

Norm Davis said, only reporting on events in which it had 

played no part. Yet Martin said, "It was going along before 

that and I picked it up and ran away with it, I think, but 

none of the other facilities had the power or the impact that 

the Times Union had back then." 596 

595 Martin, Revolution, 71. 


To the contrary, WJXT did have great impact on the 
community because it reached so many homes. Ratings for the 
station' s 6 p.m. newscast in late 1967 showed more than three 
times as many people watching WJXT as its closest rival. The 
station had a staggering 75 percent share of the television 
audience. 59 That meant that at least 200,000 people were 
viewing WJXT' s reports on government malfeasance. 

There can be little doubt that Martin and the rimes- 
Union were important contributing factors to the "yes" vote 
for consolidation. There can be little doubt that the 
newspaper was an important force in the community. However, 
the weight of the evidence points to WJXT as a much more 
important factor than Martin considered it to be. It is 
probable that without WJXT, Jacksonville would have continued 
to struggle under the old, inefficient, redundant, and 
corrupt form of government and that consolidation would have 
remained a dream for community leaders who thought the city 
and county deserved better. 


A.C. Nielsen report, 1965. Information from WJXT-TV. 


It was just before noon when three young blacks took 
their seats at an F.W. Woolworth department store lunch 
counter in Jackson, Mississippi. The three young blacks and 
a white sympathizer were outnumbered more than a hundred to 
one by a crowd of several hundred whites inside the store who 
opposed lunch counter integration. Police who had been sent 
to keep the peace at the sit-in stayed outside the store, 
even as violence inside was beginning. The three black 
youths were knocked off their stools at the lunch counter. 
Anne Moody, Perlina Lewis, and Memphis Norman all crashed to 
the floor. Twenty-six-year-old former Jackson police officer 
Benny Oliver repeatedly kicked Norman in the face as he lay 
on the floor trying to protect himself. A white professor 
from Tougaloo Southern Christian College who had joined the 
blacks in their lunch-counter sit-in was hit in the face by 
another member of the mob. Professor John Salter' s face was 
cut. Other whites poured salt and pepper into the wound and 
emptied catchup and mustard shakers on Salter' s head. Oliver 



continued his assault on Memphis Norman until blood was 
spouting from Norman' s mouth and nose. It was May 28, 
1963. 598 

The next night on WFTV-TV in Orlando, Florida, the 
station' s news anchorman read an editorial written by 
WFTV s owner, expressing outrage over what had happened in 

What can we think of ourselves? What was said in 
your home, your office, your church, your club about the 
shameful incident at Jackson, Mississippi that we saw on 
television — or in the photograph in our morning 
newspaper? Was this America? Land of Liberty? Where a 
human being was physically humiliated and molested as he 
participated in a sit-in at a lunch counter, while other 
Americans laughed and jeered. Was this our sweet land 
of liberty, where human beings were squirted with 
mustard and catsup while local police looked on 
indifferently? Where is our conscience? Where are our 
hearts? Where the Godliness our ministers have 
preached. Whose cheek was turned: white or black? 
Whose voices will rise to protest? Where the courage 
to resist and overcome human injustice? 

Do we dare sit by quietly, leaving law and order to 
the battering fists and stomping feet of Benny Oliver, a 
former Jackson lawman? We were silent before: when 
Nazis and storm troopers murdered 6-million human souls, 
when lynchers in pure white mocked justice. Speak up 
Americans! Your silence, not Benny Oliver's fists, is 
the greatest threat to our liberty. If there is any one 
of you whose soul revolted at the sickening, savage 
violence, send us a post card. Let us know that at 
least one other American felt as we did: sick at heart — 
dismayed — ashamed that this should happen here in the 
land of the free. 599 


Jack Langguth, "3 In Sit-in Beaten at Jackson Store," New 

York Times, 29 May 1963, p. 1. 


The station owner was Joseph L. Brechner, and although 
this plea for human rights and dignity may have been more 
impassioned than usual, no one who watched the station' s 
evening newscasts on a regular basis could have been 
surprised that Brechner would express his outrage so 
strongly. During the years Brechner owned Channel Nine, 
which went on the air as WLOF-TV in 1958, then changed call 
letters to WFTV in 1963, civil rights was his most frequent 
editorial topic. Brechner estimated that he had been 
responsible for two thousand editorials between 1960 and the 
time he was forced to relinquish controlling ownership of the 
station in 1969. 60 ° 

This chapter examines Joe Brechner' s personal part in 
the civil rights struggle in Orlando, as well as his 
motivations for becoming a strong proponent of equal rights. 
It also reviews a set of themes, a strategy, in the Brechner 


Joe Brechner, "The Shame of Jackson," WFTV-TV editorial, 1 
July 1963. Punctuation and grammar have been left as it was 
in the editorial copy. 

Joe. Brechner, "Until We Meet Again," Advertisement placed 
by Brechner in the Orlando Sentinel, informing viewers that 
he was being forced to turn over control of the station to 
another group while hearings were being conducted by the 
Federal Communications Commission to determine which of five 
groups would be awarded the operating license for WFTV-TV. 
Orlando Sentinel, March 1969. 


editorials. Although there is no evidence to show that 
Brechner had planned a day-to-day editorial strategy in 
advance, his editorials reveal that he had settled on motifs 
that he considered important, and from those he developed a 
strategy for helping his community deal with one of the most 
important issues of 1960s America. This chapter also 
attempts to show that Brechner' s efforts and his editorial 
strategy helped keep disturbances to a minimum in Orlando at 
a time when wholesale violence was hitting many other cities 
in Florida and the rest of United States. 

In the first section of this chapter, Joe Brechner' s 
motivations for editorializing are examined. Themes that ran 
through his civil rights editorials, along with examples of 
each theme are then included. Next, Brechner' s work beyond 
editorializing is described. 

Brechner' s Motivations 

Before exploring Brechner' s strategy for promoting civil 
rights in Orlando, it is important to examine his background, 
to ask what it was in Joe Brechner 7 s past, or upbringing, or 
education that caused him to take the civil rights lead in 
1960s Orlando, Florida, a town in the deep south with all the 
apparent prejudices of other southern towns. Joe Brechner 
was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, on 18 May 1915. His 


parents were immigrants to the United States from Russia and 
Romania. Both his father, Barney Brechner, and his wife' s 
father, Joseph Brody, had escaped from Russia to avoid being 
shipped to the front lines in the Russo-Japanese War as 
Russia attempted to expand in Eastern Asia. It was customary 
for the Russians to put Jews on the front line, where they 
were certain to be killed. There was little choice for the 
two but to escape if they were to survive the war. 601 

Brechner' s father died when Joe was thirteen. The 
family — his mother Dora, three sisters, and two brothers — 
moved to Detroit in 1928. The Brechners lived in a poor, 
racially mixed neighborhood at Division and Hastings. The 
neighborhood was peopled with colorful characters, such as 
Sam The Trombonik, who once tried to buy Joe' s two younger 
brothers. It was Sam' s idea to use the two boys as 
protection from other mobsters on the assumption that no one 
would fire at him as long as he was accompanied by two 
children. Sam The Trombonik was eventually shot and killed 
in a gangland-style killing in the Hastings/Division 
neighborhood. 602 

601 Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 1998. 

Joe Brechner, What I Always Say (Orlando: By the author, 
222 Pasadena Place, circa 1990), 60-62. 


When World War II came, Brechner dropped out of 
college and went to Washington, DC, to become a civilian 
broadcast writer with the War Department. He later joined 
the United States Army, went to Officers Candidate School, 
and continued to write for the U.S. Army Air Corps, Office of 
Radio Production. Much of his work there was writing and 
producing programs about black servicemen. 603 

After the war, Brechner served as radio and television 
director of the Veterans Administration, working for General 
Omar Bradley. As the United States returned to peacetime 
conditions, Brechner teamed with old high school friend John 
Kluge to build a radio station just outside Washington in 
Silver Spring, Maryland. Radio station WGAY was the 
springboard for a career in broadcasting for both men. When 
Brechner and Kluge sold WGAY, they had seed money for the 
future. 604 

Brechner' s widow, Marion, has a collection of radio 
scripts written by Brechner during the war years. Many of 
the scripts deal with black servicemen. 

Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 1998. Kluge 
bought controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting in 
1959. It later became Metromedia. By 1984, the company's 
holdings had grown to TV stations in seven major markets, 12 
radio stations, the Harlem Globetrotters and the Ice Capades. 
Kluge expanded into cellular phone operations. From 1959 to 
1981, the company's stock rose from 69 cents a share to $569, 
when adjusted for stock splits. Eventually, Rupert Murdoch 
acquired the stations for $2 billion to form the backbone of 


The Brechner Family Moves to Orlando 
There were almost no facilities that could be described 
as "integrated" in Orlando when Brechner came to town in the 
early fifties to buy and operate a radio station and later to 
start and manage a television station. A station owner who 
proposed integrating facilities and treating all people as 
equals was certainly risking advertising losses. A white man 
in the deep South campaigning for civil rights on his 
television station was ahead of his time and out of place. 

Joe Brechner' s widow Marion said in a March 1998 
interview that her husband' s religion was the wellspring of 
his civil rights stance, as well as her own. It is a creed 
of Judaism to give, mitzvah, to take care of people less 
fortunate. 601 Mrs. Brechner said Joe Brechner was a member of 

his Fox network. Kluge sold the cellular franchises for more 
than $4 billion. 

By 2000, Kluge was becoming a major entrepreneur in 
paging and cell phones and in constructing wireless cable 
television and telephone networks throughout Russia, the 
Baltic states, Eastern Europe and China. In doing so, at age 
82, he was considered to be taking major risks with his $7- 
billion fortune. He was the country" s fourth richest 
individual as the owner of Orion Pictures; the Ponderosa and 
Bonanza restaurant chains; two Manhattan hotels, the Barbizon 
and the Radisson Empire; and professional soccer team, the 
MetroStars. "Rich, 82, and Starting Over," New York Times, 5 
January 1997, 3,1; and Julia Reed, "The billionaire Who Just 
Won't Quit," U.S. News & World Report, 27 June 1988, 41. 

£ ' 



a minority and felt the pain of all minorities. In a note to 

Attorney Paul Dobin as Dobin was preparing a presentation on 

Brechner for the Federal Communications Commission, Brechner 

wrote of himself: 

Mr. Brechner' s sensitivity to the racial problems 
stem [ sicl not only from his own background as a member 
of a minority group, but as a result of his early youth 
in Detroit where he lived in a hard-core Eastside area, 
primarily Black, at Hastings and Division Streets. He 
attended school with Blacks, and was aware of many 
difficult problems that are involved. During World War 
two, he became a specialist in problems related to the 
Black, and integration within the military service. He 
wrote the first network radio program about Blacks, 
which was broadcast on the then NBC network. . . . WLOF 
Radio, under his guidance, employed the first Negro disc 
jockey, not only in Orlando and Florida, but probably 
the entire South. 606 

As of the year 2000, Marion Brechner, in her mid- 
eighties, was president of Brechner Management in Orlando. 
The Brechners' son, Berl, oversaw management of the three 
radio stations and two television stations owned by Brechner 
Management. When asked what she did as president of the 
company, Mrs. Brechner said with a grin, "I manage." Marion 
Brechner' s office was in a converted home in an older section 
of Orlando, north of downtown. It was a building Joe and 
Marion Brechner purchased to use as an office after losing 
control of WFTV. Flowers were visible from the windows year- 

Letter from Joe Brechner to Paul Dobin of Cohn and Marks, 
Washington, DC, 3 January 1974. 


round. Marion Brechner worked at the desk that was once her 
husband' s in a room replete with reminders of Joe Brechner. 
Pictures of Joe and Marion, one with Hubert Humphrey, 
occupied the desk top, along with pictures of their son and 
daughter-in-law, and pictures of their three grandchildren. 
Sitting in her late husband' s black leather office chair, 
leaning forward on the desk, Marion said of the Brechners' 
dedication to the Civil Rights Movement: 

Joe came from nothing; I came from nothing, and we 
had this mission to perform. We had to give, we had to 
help. Joe was always so proud of America, that it gave 
him a chance to be something [ she whispers the word, 
"something," slowly, emotionally] . If our folks had 
stayed in Russia, they and we might have died. So, I 
think it was eternal gratitude that he was born here 
in a democracy and that there was nothing to fear from 
the soldiers, the government and whatnot, things like 

We could identify with the Blacks, and Joe and I 
both came from the North, so we didn' t have a 
Southerner' s temperament about Blacks and we did have a 
concern that people should be treated like people [ she 
pauses and stresses "people"] , no matter what. I think 
this is what probably motivated him the most, that he 
came from nothing, that this country gave him a chance 
to be something. 607 

The Brechners had run into discrimination themselves. 

According to Marion, they had sometimes felt uncomfortable in 

situations with Gentiles. They had purchased a house in 

Maryland when they were first married, although the house had 

607 Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 1998. 


a proviso that no Jews were allowed in the neighborhood. 
Marion Brechner said recently, "We bought it anyway. We 
said, 'The Hell with it. I'm going to live where I want to 
live.'" As Jews, they were also excluded from membership in 
the country club in Orlando when they came to town. 
Instances of discrimination such as those, according to 
Marion, sharpened Joe' s sensitivity to cases of 
discrimination against others. 

Another influence in Brechner' s life was the death of 
his father when Joe was thirteen. As the oldest of the three 
boys in the family, it fell to him to take his father' s 
place, to help his mother support his two brothers and three 
older sisters. Marion Brechner says, "He didn't have time to 
be a young man as a young man." A college professor at Wayne 
State University in Detroit thought Joe was in his thirties, 
until Joe mentioned his age in a letter written to the 
professor. Joe was only eighteen. 609 

His position as a leader at such a young age, his 
position of responsibility, seemed to stay with him, to carry 
through to adulthood, when he and other Orlando leaders would 


Wayne State University) , note to Brechner, commenting on a 
writing assignment, 27 January 1935. 


take responsibility for making the city an exception in an 
era when civil rights advocacy was often met with violence. 
Brechner never forgot his family background. On the back of 
printed copies of each of his editorials broadcast on Channel 
Nine was a list of people to whom copies of the editorial 
should be sent; his mother's name was always on the list. 

It was not only religion, not only family, that 
propelled Brechner on his way to a world beyond the 
neighborhood at Hastings and Division Streets. The Boy 
Scouts also played a big part in Joe Brechner' s life. Joe 
attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and the organization was 
where he got his first encouragement as a writer when he won 
an essay contest. 

The love of writing never left him. Marion recalled in 
a 1998 interview that Joe would have preferred to be Arthur 
Miller rather than Joe Brechner, "writing incessantly, 
interminably and always." 610 Former WFTV-TV news director Ray 
Ruester also remembered in a 1998 interview that writing was 
a passion for Brechner. 611 Ruester, then living in Ormond 
Beach, Florida, said, "Joe Brechner was a terrific writer. 
He always edited if he was there. In fact when I first 

610 Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 1998. 

611 Interview with Ray Ruester, 26 February 1998. 


started writing editorials, I don't think he kept one word 
that I wrote." 612 It was Ruester who delivered the editorials 
that Brechner had written. Ruester was the news director and 
anchor-reporter at Channel Nine. When the topic was not of 
vital importance to Brechner, Ruester wrote the editorial, 
but Brechner checked and edited every one. 
F.Hi tori aJ Themes 
Several themes run through the civil rights editorials 
of Joe Brechner (Table 2) . Foremost is the theme of equal 
rights and equal opportunities for all. That is the 
foundation one would expect to find in editorials on this 
subject. But how did Brechner intend to impress upon his 
audience the importance of equal rights for all? What means 
of persuasion did he use in the attempt to convince viewers 
of his television station, and his editorials, that all 
Americans, not just the white majority, were meant to share 
in the freedoms and opportunities guaranteed by the 
constitution and the laws of the land? In addition to the 
overriding theme of fairness, there were four other thrusts 
to the Brechner strategy: (1) It could happen here; (2) 
Praise; (3) Patriotism; and (4) It' s good business strategy. 

Interview with Ray Ruester, 23 April 1998. 


Table 2. Editorial Themes. 



It Could Happen 

"Orlando has been a model community. . . . 
But the Committee and all citizens must 
now be alert to new and changing needs of 
minority groups. . . . These are the 
conditions that exploded into trouble in 
other cities." 


"The football game last Thursday night in 
Orlando between Jones High School and 
Edgewater High school was an outstanding 
event in Central Florida. . . . The event 
reflected the maturity of our citizens, 
both adults and young people. It showed 
that integration not only can work here, 
but it can work unusually well." 


"We speak glibly about defending democracy 
and liberty. While our youth fight 
enemies of Democracy overseas, those of us 
at home had better put ourselves openly on 
the firing line to resist and overcome the 
enemies of liberty in our own backyard." 

Good Business 

"Among those restaurants and hotels, 
theaters and other places of public 
accommodation in the South that have begun 
serving or hiring Negroes, only a few 
report suffering any lasting economic 
conseguences. A sizable number, in fact, 
declare that business has been better than 

In driving home his point of "It could happen here," 
Brechner stressed that if Orlandoans did not work for 
peaceful integration, the city would experience the same 


kinds of violence occurring in other United States cities 
such as St. Augustine, Tampa, and Jacksonville. 

In employing the praise strategy, Brechner repeatedly 
praised Orlando and its citizens for not succumbing to the 
same kind of bigotry and hatred that were wracking other 
communities in the sixties. There were two prongs to the 
praise strategy. Some of his praise was aimed at Orlando' s 
citizens; some of it was aimed at Orlando's leaders. In some 
editorials, when Brechner praised the community for its 
higher standard of behavior in civil rights matters, he was 
careful also to praise the city' s leaders for being a part of 
the effort to make Orlando a better place for all. 

Patriotism was a theme dear to Brechner' s heart. Marion 
Brechner recalled that her husband was grateful for the 
opportunities he had had in America. He thought America was 
a great country because it was founded on the principles of 
equal opportunity for all. To violate that principle was un- 
American. 614 Brechner frequently made hate and extremist 
groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, targets of his editorials 
in order to stress that anyone who behaved as these groups 
did was not a good American. 


In promoting civil rights as good business strategy, 
Brechner told his viewers that equal opportunity and equal 
rights were keys to a thriving community and that to deny 
civil rights to a certain segment of the population of the 
Orlando area would have caused economic harm to the 

Brechner was employing a variation on an approach to 
civil rights explored by Ruben Burney in a master' s thesis 
for Michigan State University. 615 In Burney' s study, 
newspapers approached civil rights workers in one of three 
ways: (1) the Neo-Gandhian approach, which saw civil rights 
workers as "upright, dignified and justified"; (2) the Plague 
on Both Your Houses approach, which saw both civil rights 
workers and segregationists as extremists; and (3) the 
Misguided Troublemakers approach, which saw civil rights 
workers as causing problems where there should have been 
none. Brechner viewed civil rights workers as Neo-Gandhian; 
it was segregationists, such as members of the Ku Klux Klan, 
that were constantly cast in the light of misguided 
troublemakers . 

615 Ruben Burney, 11, "Newspaper Coverage of the Early I960' s 
Civil Rights Movement: A Content Analysis of World Views" 
(Master's thesis, Michigan State University, 1991), 8. 


E&aaBlSa a£ Editorials Using Brechner' s 
Fniir Themes 

Tt Could Happen Here 

Brechner wrote about Ku Klux Klan troublemakers in an 
editorial about one of the many tragedies of the sixties. 
When bombs killed six children in Birmingham, Alabama, in 
September 1963, Brechner said on September 16, "It is a 
reminder to all fair and decent thinking citizens to avoid 
like the plague rabble rousers and hate-mongering 
organizations. Look out for the trouble makers who would 
solve racial and human problems with violence." 

Two Brechner themes are incorporated into this 

editorial. The word "fair" is used, as it was in so many of 

the editorials. There is also a warning to Orlandoans that 

the same kind of tragedy could strike central Florida: 

The Alabama situation is a vivid reminder to all of 
us here that the attempt to solve racial problems in our 
state, in our area, is no child' s game. It is a deadly 
serious business. It is also a reminder to city, county 
and state officials and to all law enforcement officers 
that firm and fair leadership and the strict respect and 
enforcement of laws is essential if race problems are to 
be solved fairly and satisfactorily. 617 

616 Joe Brechner, "The Birmingham Tragedy," WFTV-TV editorial, 
16 September 1963. 




There are other examples of warnings that racial strife 

taking place in other parts of the country could come to 

Orlando. On 25 July 1966, Brechner told Orlandoans they had 

been fortunate so far, but keeping their community peaceful 

would require effort: 

Orlando has been a model community with its 
progressive efforts by the Mayor' s Inter-Racial Advisory 
Committee, and the full support it has received from 
business, civic and religious organizations, and the 
citizens of our area. But the Committee and all 
citizens must now be alert to new and changing needs of 
minority groups and the underprivileged and unemployed 
or low income families living within slum areas — with 
their needs for better housing, job opportunities, 
recreational facilities and better health and education 
facilities. These are the fundamental conditions that 
exploded into trouble in other cities which has led to 
immeasurable losses of life and property, to business, 
to landlords, even to the poor themselves and innocent 
bystanders. 618 


Within that editorial was also another example of praise 

for the community and its leaders . Brechner told the 

community' s citizens and leaders how well they were doing: 

"We know citizens of Central Florida condemn troublemakers 

and extremists — colored and white — who would incite violence 

or disorder and destroy the tranquillity of our area and 

618 Joe Brechner, "How to Prevent Racial Unrest," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 25 July 1966. 


progress made here in race relations and community 

development ." 

Brechner used this strategy again when all-black Jones 

High School played mostly white Edgewater High School on the 

football field in 1967: 

The football game last Thursday night in Orlando 
between Jones High School and Edgewater High School was 
an outstanding event in Central Florida. . . . What made 
this event outstanding was the goodwill it generated in 
friendly inter-racial relations in Central Florida. 
. . . The event reflected the maturity of all our 
citizens, both adults and young people. It showed that 
integration not only can work here, but it can work 
unusually well. 620 

Brechner complimented the athletic departments of both high 

schools, the City Commission, the Police Department, and the 

Mayor of Orlando, an apparent attempt to make everyone feel 

they had had a part in, and therefore a stake in, this 

integration success. 

Brechner 7 s strategy did not always work completely. 

The following year, the same two teams met at the Tangerine 

Bowl. A group of blacks known as the Ring Eye Gang sneaked 

into the game and started fist fights in the stands. There 

were some fights between students of the two schools. The 

editorial, 26 July 1967. 

620 Joe Brechner, "Outstai 
editorial, 18 September 1967. 

620 Joe Brechner, "Outstanding Football Game," WFTV-TV 


Ring Eye Gang had no racial agenda. According to Father 
Nelson Pinder, a black Episcopalian minister, gang members 
were more interested in establishing their "turf." 621 Father 
Pinder remembered some friction both on and off the field 
even before the Ring Eye Gang started trouble. The referees 
were all white. Pinder said they were calling a biased game 
in favor of the white players. Pinder called it "tension 
football." 622 

However, the trouble did not go beyond the stadium that 
night. There were no subsequent problems connected with the 
incident. That was far different from the pattern seen in 
other American cities in the sixties, when incidents similar 
to the Tangerine Bowl fights led to escalated racial 
disturbances. A committee was appointed by Mayor Carl 
Langford to look into the causes of the stadium brawl. 
Heading that committee was Joe Brechner. Brechner' s 
committee turned in its report nine days later. The 
committee found that members of both the black and white 
communities and students and faculty at both schools "were 

621 Interview with Father Nelson Pinder, 9 March 1998. 

622 Ibid. 


greatly upset, embarrassed and disturbed by the 
outbreak." 623 

Students and faculty at both schools recommended that 
there be no cutback in interaction between white and black 
schools and even urged that there be an extension of 
activities between predominately black and predominately 
white schools. Those activities, according to the report, 
were to include not only football, but also "other common 
interests such as debating, musical events, arts 
competitions, and any other events which promote and 
encourage racial understandings between the races while 
stimulating greater interest, diversity and higher standards 
among both groups." 62,1 

The committee' s report stressed that the incident at the 
Tangerine Bowl could have grown into the kind of tragedy that 
had hit other cities but concluded that the reason it did not 
was the progress that had been made in the preceding ten 
years of civil rights efforts in Orlando. The committee used 
its opportunity to speak to the community by stressing again 
that Orlandoans must continue to press for equal rights and 

623 "Stadium Brawl Blamed on Troublemakers Seeking to Exploit 
Racism, Orlando Sentinel, 29 September 1968, 10A. 

624 Ibid. 


equal opportunities and that law enforcement should enforce 
laws equitably for both blacks and whites. 

The committee also warned that another football game 
involving all-black Jones High School and another 
predominately white high school, scheduled for the following 
week should be rescheduled if adequate police protection 
could not be afforded. That advice was not heeded by city 
officials. The game went on — and there was another, similar, 
disturbance, which also ended quickly and was not followed by 
more widespread violence. 

What is remarkable about the incidents at the football 
games is not that they happened, but that they were over so 
quickly, and that Orlando returned to normalcy so soon. Much 
of the credit for a relatively benign racial atmosphere in 
the city must go to Joe Brechner because of his extensive 
efforts, both on and off the air, to advance the cause of 
civil rights in Orlando. 

If anyone wanted to see that benign racial atmosphere 
destroyed it was the people Brechner called "extremists." 
Extremists in general, the Ku Klux Klan in particular, drew 
much of Brechner' s attention in his daily editorials. He 

5 Interview with Father Nelson Pinder, 9 March 1998. 


repeatedly stressed that extremists, such as members of the 

Klan and the John Birch Society, who cloaked themselves in 

the American flag, were definitely not patriots as they 

frequently claimed to be. They were, instead, "hate mongers, 

dangerous anarchists, dynamitists, and human assassins." 

In addition to praising his viewers for what he 

perceived to be their reasoned, fair stand on civil rights, 

Brechner attempted often to make them feel part of the team, 

to establish an "us against them" mindset when speaking of 

extremists and bigots: 

While communities like Orlando have formed Inter- 
racial Committees and have worked out differences over a 
conference table, other communities, including Ocala, 
have failed miserably because they have not even 
attempted to meet the challenge of our times 
intelligently and reasonably. . . . As we view 
disturbances in other parts of the state and nation, one 
fact becomes obvious. Local, area and state officials 
must handle problems and differences on the local level. 
. . . Central Florida must control rabble rousing on 
either side of the racial issue. We have no room for 
rabble in Marion or any other community in Florida. 621 

626 Joe Brechner, "How Dangerous are Crackpots," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 11 May 1962. 

627 The editorial noted that Ocala had formed a bi-racial 
committee that had been dissolved a week later. 

628 Joe Brechner, "Rabble in Marion," WFTV-TV editorial, 24 
October 1963. 


Brechner saw the Klan as a force that could, if left 
unchecked, "destroy Americans and America." 629 In numerous 
editorials on the KKK, Brechner called the Klan "rabble 
rousing group," "a terror gang," and "cowards hiding under 
hoods and robes preaching hatred and committing violence." 63 ' 
Brechner editorials also reminded viewers that they could not 
simply withdraw and hope the problem of the Ku Klux Klan 
would go away, that action was the way to solve racial 

In October, 1963, three months after Orlando had 
peacefully integrated fifty-six hotels, motels, and 
restaurants, 631 Brechner praised Representative Charles E. 
Weltner of Georgia for his stand on civil rights, while at 
the same time letting Weltner' s words serve as a warning: 
"Weltner said that moderate white Southerners who remained 
quiet [ about the KKK] must share the blame for the 
Birmingham, Alabama church bombings." 632 Swimming pool 

629 Joe Brechner, "A Klan Warning," WFTV-TV editorial, 15 July 

630 Ibid. 

631 Eve Bacon, Orlando, A Centennial History (Chulota, FL, 
1977), 249. 

632 Joe Brechner, "Partial Civil Rights," WFTV-TV editorial, 
11 October 1963. 


integration had not gone as smoothly that same summer as full 
integration had been delayed until the following year, but 
there had been no violent confrontations, such as those that 
would hit St. Augustine the following summer. 633 Klansmen 
were a "social cancer" that rode "in the night to frighten, 
beat, bomb and murder without fear of apprehension and 
punishment." 634 Writing about a House Un-American Activities 
Committee vote to investigate the Klan, Brechner said, "We 
must rid ourselves of these shrouded examples of lawlessness 

633 David J. Garrow, ed., St. Augustine, Florida, 1963-1964: 
Mass Protest and Racial Violence (Brooklyn: Carlson 
Publishing, Inc.), 220-221. Both the summer of 1963 and 1964 
were violent in St. Augustine. Martin Luther King had 
promised a "long hot summer" in 1964. Hundreds of 
demonstrators were arrested; both blacks and whites were 
beaten; Dr. King" s rented house at the beach was vandalized 
and an attempt made to set it on fire; acid was poured into a 
motel swimming pool when blacks attempted to integrate the 
pool; some black demonstrators were nearly drowned when they 
tried to swim at a whites-only beach; a gang of white youths 
attacked six black youths who were fishing from a St. 
Augustine bridge. Those were only some of the incidents that 
took place during the "long, hot summer." In many of the 
events, particularly swimming pool and beach integration, 
there was a strong Klan presence. See also R.O. Mitchell 
(Chmn.) Racial and Civil Disorders in St. Augustine, Report 
of the Legislative Investigation Committee, Feb., 1965 and 
David R. Colburn, Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. 
Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980 (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1985) . 

634 Joe Brechner, "Klan Investigation," WFTV-TV editorial, 2 
April 1965. 


from a better-to-be-forgotten past." 635 Orlandoans, once 

again, were not supposed to close their doors and eyes and 

hope the problem would go away as long as they did not take 

part in Klan activities. 

A month later, in another editorial targeting the Klan, 

Brechner wrote: 

Such deranged minds . . . are a dangerous threat to any 
community. And the problem rests with the community. 
Legislation or denunciation will do no good unless the 
responsible citizens of local communities are aroused 
and openly resist and deplore the very existence of any 
organization that thrives on hatred and violence. The 
Klan will only be eliminated if Southern citizens and 
civic leaders themselves, and particularly state and 
local political officials and law enforcement officers, 
forcefully and wholeheartedly state their revulsion and 
refuse support of this society of bigots known as the Ku 
Klux Klan. 636 

Brechner made it clear to Orlandoans that they had a 

stake in what Klansmen were allowed, or not allowed, to do in 

their community and that Orlando residents held the key to 

their own future: 

Communities throughout the nation, large or small, 
have witnessed the moral and political deterioration of 
communities where fear and violence have prevailed. On 
the other hand, they have seen the peaceful progress 


Joe Brechner, "Society of Bigots," WFTV-TV editorial, 11 

May 1965. 


that is possible where understanding reasonableness and 
fair and sensible judgment prevail. 637 

The editorial attacks on the Klan did not go unnoticed 
by Klan members. Employees at Channel Nine arrived one 
morning to find a Klan sticker on the door. The sticker 
said, "A Klansman was here." 638 In addition, there were 
threats of bodily harm to members of the newsroom staff if 
criticism of the Klan continued. 639 Ray Ruester, who was news 
director at the station for most of the sixties, recalled in 
1998 that employees were often afraid that they would be the 
target of a Klan attack. 64 

The fears of Channel Nine employees were not unfounded. 
There was Klan activity in Orlando and other cities in 
Florida. The Klan was blamed for much of the violence that 
hit St. Augustine in the sixties. 641 Brechner and other 
citizens of Orlando interested in keeping the peace must have 

editorial, 8 December 1965. 

638 Joe Brechner, ""Klan Investigation," WFTV-TV editorial, 2 
April 1965. 

639 Joe Brechner, "Clear and Present Danger," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 17 November 1967. 

640 Interview with Ray Ruester, 26 February 1998. 

641 David Colburn, Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. 
Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980 (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1985), 50. 


shuddered in October of 1967 to see 400 Klansmen motorcade 
through the city, then conclude "their meeting with a cross- 
burning in the patio area of Kemp' s Coliseum." 642 Brechner 
might have also shuddered but did not back down from his 
anti-Klan, pro-civil rights stance when the results of a poll 
Channel Nine conducted that same month showed that 52 percent 
of WFTV-TV viewers approved of the Ku Klux Klan. Brechner' s 
widow, Marion, recalled that even when Klan members called 
Brechner at home, he refused to have his home phone number 
removed from the directory, saying, "If they're out there, I 
want to know who they are and I want to know if they* re 

it 643 


Brechner himself was a patriot. He believed in the 
guarantees of the constitution and that to deny those 
guarantees to anyone was to defile what America stood for. 644 
When a viewer who disagreed with Brechner wrote, threatening 
to telephone all of Channel Nine' s advertisers to say he 
would not patronize them because they advertised on the 
station, Brechner said: 

Joe Brechner, "Renewed Menace," WFTV-TV editorial, 17 
October 1967. 

Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 1998. 

Interview with Marion Brechner, 22 April 1998. 


Fortunately, most advertisers are sensible, patriotic 
Americans who believe in free, responsible expression. 
... An editorial is designed to stimulate thought, 
discussion of an issue , and to provoke public 
understanding and action, if necessary. We appreciate 
comments pro and con. That's the American way. 

With United States involvement in Vietnam escalating, 646 

in October 1965, Brechner again used patriotism as a theme, 

telling his viewers that each of them should to speak up on 

issues of civil rights, and 

assume personal responsibility to stand up openly, speak 
his mind and strongly assert his views and principles, 
based upon logic, good sense and a reasonable respect 
for the positions of others. We speak glibly about 
defending democracy and liberty. While our youth fight 
enemies of Democracy overseas, those of us at home had 
better put ourselves openly on the firing line to resist 
and overcome the enemies of liberty in our own 
backyard. 6 " 

It' s Good Business 

Another major category of editorial used by Joe Brechner 

was the appeal to Orlando' s business community. It was an 

appeal based on self-preservation. Business and the economy 

were important factors in 1960s Orlando. The city was 

growing. Groundbreakings and events marking the openings of 

645 Joe Brechner. "Letters to the Editorials," WLOF-TV 
editorial, 13 September 1961 

646 Robert L. Hilliard and Michael C. Kieth, The Broadc 
Century (Boston: Focal Press, 1992), 182. 

647 Joe Brechner, "Freedom's 
editorial, 14 October 1965. 

Joe Brechner, "Freedom' s Enemies at Home," WFTV-TV 


new Orlando businesses were held regularly. New roads 

leading to Orlando were being built, including a 61-mile 

stretch of the Sunshine Parkway between Orlando and Yeehaw 

Junction. 648 

Brechner was a businessman himself. He understood the 

issues that were important to business, and he did not 

hesitate to use them to promote racial fairness. What 

business person could fail to see the profit message in an 

August 1963 editorial: 

The experience referred to by the article [ an article in 
the Wall Street Journal on the effects of desegregation 
in southern cities] points up a significant and perhaps 
surprising fact, according to the Wall Street Journal. 
Among those restaurants and hotels, theaters and other 
places of public accommodation in the South that have 
begun serving or hiring Negroes, only a few report 
suffering any lasting economic consequences. A sizable 
number, in fact, declare that business has been better 
than ever. 649 

In September 1961, shortly after several Orlando variety 

and drugstores began serving blacks at lunch counters during 

prearranged hours without incident, 650 Brechner pointed out 

what had happened to other communities that had encountered 

racial problems: 

648 Bacon, Orlando. 


Joe Brechner, "Does Desegregation Hurt Business," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 9 August 1963. 


Little Rock, which became a symbol of educational chaos, 
paid heavily for its negligence. According to a study, 
one-third fewer families are moving into Little Rock now 
than in 1957 when trouble started. And twice as many 
families moved out in 1958 and 1959. As the average 
American family increased its buying power by two per 
cent, the average Little Rock family had a seven per 
cent decrease in buying power. . . . And here' s a report 
that would send chills up and down the spine of any 
industrial development board. Little Rock was adding 
small and large industrial plants every year from 1950 
through 1957, the year schools were closed. In 1958 and 
1959— None! No new plants added at all. 651 

In the same editorial, "rabble-rousers" were blamed for 

causing business problems in Little Rock by impeding the 

progress of integration. Responsible community leaders were 

praised for trying to change the direction of the city' s 

integration efforts. It would take two more years of gradual 

effort, but when school integration was fully implemented in 

Orlando, there were no incidents. 652 

A Voice For Minorities 

Patriotism, as well as the other themes of Joe 

Brechner' s strategy, were part of another apparently 

important factor in editorial policy. Brechner frequently 

broadcast the views of his audience. On many evenings, the 

editorial was a compilation of letters to the editor, 

651 Joe Brechner, "The Failure of the Rabble Rousers," WLOF-TV 
editorial, 7 September 1961. 

652 Bacon, Orlando, 250. 


sometimes called "Letters to Editorials," sometimes called 

"Snipes and Gripes," sometimes given a subject-related title. 

In one editorial, titled "Equal Justice and Protection," a 

letter from a black Orlandoan was read to viewers. The 

writer said: 

The Negro society cannot help but be stunned and 
amazed that no cry of treason or sedition went out 
against the perpetrators in the bombing and killing of 
four little girls in a Birmingham church. ... As a 
Negro, I don' t believe that rioting is the answer, but I 
know that every Negro recognizes and deplores the 
conditions as they exist today. The white community 
must first of all recognize that the picture of patience 
and unending endurance in which they have characterized 
the Negro ... is only a figment of their own 
imagination 653 

The letter went on to say that "[ F] rom an economic point 

racial prejudices are no longer tenable, are morally wrong 

and are completely unacceptable to the Negro," and that a 

good place to start healing would be "the personal dedication 

and conviction of every citizen that from this day forth he 

will treat his fellow Americans as he himself would like to 

be treated." 654 

Joe Brechner' s editorial for that evening had been 

written, just as Brechner would have written it, but by a 

Joe Brechner, "Equal Justice and Protection," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 25 April 1968. 

654 Ibid. 


black viewer. Not all letter writers identified themselves 

by race, but it would be logical to assume that other letters 

written by blacks were part of these "letters to the editor" 

segments. Brechner recognized that one of the frustrations 

of blacks was their lack of voice in matters that so directly 

concerned them. In July, 1967 he editorialized: 

A main source of frustration within minority groups 
is their exclusion from serving in some capacity and 
having a voice, even a minority voice, in the affairs of 
the state and their local communities. . . . Some 
cities, such as Orlando, have advisory boards and groups 
that are inter-racial by choice — or by chance. In the 
past, Negroes have not been represented on many boards 
and committees that decide primarily matters affecting 
Negroes or Negro areas. . . . Only if disadvantaged 
groups are represented in the planning and other affairs 
in the community can we expect continued progress and 
improvement in social and economic conditions and the 
maintenance of an atmosphere of goodwill and 
understanding within our area. 655 


Even though the editorials reflect an apparent picture 

of a single-minded, ever-optimistic champion of civil rights, 

Brechner occasionally showed signs of despair. Shortly after 

the 4 April 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, 

Jr., Brechner wrote, 

How long can we endure the enemies of truth, justice 
and democracy? How much longer must we tolerate 
indifference? How long must we hope for a change of 

655 Joe Brechner, "Who Represents the Minority." WFTV-TV 
editorial, 28 July 1967. 


spirit? When will all Americans accept and support the 
promise of full freedom offered by our founding fathers 
who pledged to each other their lives, their fortune and 
sacred honor in signing this declaration? 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by 
their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that 
among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of 

As we wait for the consummation of these great 
truths, this American dream, too often we seem 
very alone with our impatience and sense of 
outrage. 656 

Beyond Editorials 

Brechner 7 s editorials were important in establishing a 

more racially positive climate in Orlando but were not the 

only contribution he made to his community. Just as Brechner 

had hired blacks at his Orlando radio station, he also hired 

blacks at his television station, training the first blacks 

in Florida television to be technicians and news personnel 

Another factor in the racial climate of Orlando in the 
sixties was the Inter-Racial Committee established by Mayor 
Bob Carr. Joe Brechner was one of the initial five members 
of the committee, which was eventually expanded to twenty- 

656 Joe Brechner, "A Sense of Outrage," WFTV-TV editorial, 8 
April 1968. 

657 Bob Bilingslea, address at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon 
honoring Brechner, Radisson Hotel, Lake Ivanhoe, 8 March 


four members, twelve black and twelve white. 658 The group's 
name changed over the years, first to the Community Relations 
Committee, then to the Human Relations Committee. The group 
was frequently mentioned in editorials on Channel Nine. The 
editorials lauded the work of the Committee 659 and gave 
members much of the credit for keeping the peace in 
Orlando. 660 Other communities, such as Ocala, were criticized 
for not forming bi-racial committees or for forming 
committees and then letting them go out of existence. 661 
Brechner was instrumental on the Commission as it grew in 
persuading other members that they must support the Civil 
Rights Movement in Orlando. 

Bob Bilingslea later became a member of the Commission, 
then its president. In later years he went to work as 
director of equal opportunity programs at Walt Disney World. 
During a Chamber of Commerce tribute to Brechner in 1988, he 
outlined how Brechner had worked behind the scenes, as well 

"Major Merchants Will Integrate Sales Force," Orlando 
Sentinel, 11 June 1963, Al . 

Joe Brechner, "Progress in Race Relations," WFTV-TV 
editorial, 30 July 1963. 

Joe Brechner, "Race Relations Improve," WFTV-TV editorial, 
6 June 1963. 

Joe Brechner, "Rabble in Marion," WFTV-TV editorial, 24 
October 1963. 


as on the air, to bring about peaceful integration in 


It was newcomer Joe Brechner who brought the 
problem to a head when he met privately with the Mayor. 
[ Brechner said,] "Not only is the situation in the Black 
community unfair and dishonest, it is going to explode 
in our faces unless we do something about it, and soon." 
Brechner' s plan was neat and simple. Move the 
interracial problems out in the open. Point out to the 
business and professional leaders the tremendous value 
of the Black population as employees, customers and 
consumers. Start talking and listening. 662 

Mayor Robert Carr agreed with Brechner and took the 

message to business and community leaders. Billingslea told 

those gathered to honor Brechner: 

Things improved. Not overnight, but slowly and surely. 
Joe Brechner asked business leaders to increase black 
employment and to increase on the job training for black 
employees, an unheard of request in those days, but it 
happened. 663 

Bilingslea reminded Orlandoans of the bitter race riots 

that had hit other southern cities, such as Atlanta, Tampa, 

Jacksonville, Little Rock, Nashville, and Selma. "It is 

important," he said, "to know that Orlando did not resort to 

those kind of tactics. Brechner' s committee had done its 

job. Brechner underlined these events with editorials on 

WFTV and copies sent to local civic and business leaders." 

Bob Bilingslea, Brechner Luncheon. 



There were no ugly incidents at Orlando lunch counters, such 
as the beating of Memphis Norman by Benny Oliver in Jackson, 
no riots, no white protests against integration of the 
counters. "The people of Orlando," said Bilingslea, "both 
black and white, had quietly taken a stand. They approved of 
the work of the Human Relations Committee and wanted it to 
continue." 664 

One of the major criticisms of the media in the 1968 
Kerner Commission report was media failure to include blacks 
in the mirror held up to Americans. Blacks were not visible 
in many communities; they were ignored by the white media, 
ommission members wrote in their report, "The average black 
person couldn' t give less of a damn about what the media 
says. The intelligent black person is resentful at what he 
considers to be a totally false portrayal of what goes on in 
the ghetto. Most black people see the newspapers as 
mouthpieces of the power structure." 665 Orlando television 
viewers, black and white, got a different picture from the 
editorials and the news coverage of Channel Nine. 

Report of The National Advisory Commission on Civil 
Disorders. Otto Kerner, Chairman (New York: New York Times 
Co., 1968), 374. 


Another of the complaints against the news media in the 

Kerner Commission report is that media were not covering all 

the events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, a dangerous 


[ W] e believe it would be imprudent to and even dangerous 
to downplay coverage in the hope that censored reporting 
of inflammatory incidents somehow will diminish 
violence. Once a disturbance occurs, the word will 
spread independently of newspapers and television. To 
attempt to ignore these events or portray them as 
something other than what they are, can only diminish 
confidence in the media and increase the effectiveness 
of those who monger rumors and the fears of those who 
listen. 666 

According to the Kerner Commission report, that had been a 

major part of the problem in Detroit's riots. Some 

broadcasters had cooperated with police by not reporting the 

riot in hopes that they could "avoid attracting people to the 

scene." 667 With no solid information about the obvious 

trouble and no explanation for the large numbers of police on 

the streets, rumors could spread unchecked. 

In his February 1998 interview, former news director Ray 

Ruester said he and Brechner were committed to broadcasting 

all the news. He recalled that the publisher of the Orlando 

Sentinel, Martin Anderson, chose not to publish stories on 

667 Ibid., 87. 


many of the events in the community for fear of "stirring up 
trouble." 668 Kathy Amick Fuqua-Cardwell, whose 1992 master' s 
thesis for Rollins College in Winter Park, outlined the Civil 
Rights Movement in Central Florida, 669 also remembers that 
Anderson chose to sit on stories rather than risk 
exacerbating Orlando' s racial tensions by alerting the 
community to problems that already existed. 670 

Examination of Joe Brechner' s editorials is significant 
for two reasons: The material left behind by Brechner is a 
valuable historical record of the part played by Channel Nine 
and its owner in the community served by the station. It is 
unusual to find such a rich file of scripts from a local 
station from as far back as the sixties. Broadcasters seldom 
think of their craft as history. They think of it as an 
evanescent transmission of information that is useless once 
the words have been uttered and the pictures shown. There 
are a few stations that do have tape and film libraries from 
decades past, but there are many that do not. Some stations 

Interview with Ray Ruester, who was Channel Nine News 
Director during the sixties, 26 February 1998. 

Fuqua-Cardwell, "Racial Justice." 

Interview with Kathy Amick Fuqua-Cardwell, 20 February 


save their video but do not consider scripts as important as 

It is also unusual to find a broadcaster with Brechner' s 
dedication to hard-hitting editorials. Examination of what 
happened in Orlando during the years Brechner was writing 
frequent editorials on civil rights indicates that perhaps 
such dedication can change the course of a community' s 
history. Brechner was awarded first place in the nation in 
the Community Service division by the National Conference of 
Mayors in 1964. In giving Brechner the award, Honolulu Mayor 
Neal S. Blaisdell cited the broadcaster' s editorials on 
community relations. 671 Brechner commented that second place 
went to "a little station known as WCBS-TV of New York 
City." 672 WFTV also won the DuPont Foundation award for 
service in the public interest in 1964. The award lauded 
WFTV for exposing its viewers to a generous range of 
viewpoints and attitudes. The foundation commended WFTV "for 
appealing . . . for intelligence, moderation, and good will 
in the solution of social problems that have only too 

671 The Corner Cupboard, 28 May 1964. 

In 1960, Orlando's population was only 87,000. Orange 
Count/ s population was 262,000. Eve Bacon, Orlando: A 
Centennial History, vol. 2 (Chuluota, Florida: The Mickler 
House, 1977), 230. 


often, in other communities been met with mindless 
violence." 673 

There were other stations in the sixties presenting 
editorials with real meaning for the community. WTVJ-TV in 
Miami and WJXT-TV in Jacksonville were among them. 674 There 
are few stations with regular editorials on the air in the 
nineties, fewer who present editorials with any real 
substance. Too often, television editorials follow the 
pattern mentioned in the conclusion of this dissertation, as 
well as in Chapter 7, on the state of the broadcast editorial 
in the 1960s. It is a pattern of safe, public service 
editorials that do not risk stepping on toes or alienating 

Joe Brechner eschewed such fluff in favor of issues that 
were more urgently important to the societal health of 
Orlando. He used several themes to convince his viewers that 
equality and fairness were the goals Orlando should strive 

6 I 1 

"DuPont Foundation Award," WFTV editorial, 22 March 1965. 

For information on WTVJ, see Fran Materia, "WTVJ, Miami: 
Wolfson, Renick, and "May the Good News be Yours," in 
Television in America, Michael D. Murray and Donald G. 
Godfrey, eds . (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1997.) For 
information on WJXT, see Joe Glover, "Media Influence on 
City-County Consolidation in Jacksonville and Duval County, 
Florida, 1967." Unpublished manuscript, University of 
Florida, 1997. Also see chapters in this dissertation on 
Ralph Renick and Norm Davis. 


for. Brechner stressed fairness as black and white 
Orlandoans dealt with each other. He warned that a hostile 
racial atmosphere in Orlando could lead to the problems being 
encountered by other American cities in the 1960s, bringing 
both violence and economic decline to his city. He equated 
fairness and equality with patriotism. He branded members of 
extremist groups unpatriotic and out of place in Orlando, or 
anywhere else in America. He attempted to hold up a mirror 
for the citizens and leaders of Orlando, in which they would 
see a picture of what he hoped they would become. In so 
doing, Brechner helped shape the Orlando of the sixties and 
beyond, and contributed to the successful effort to keep 
Orlando from experiencing the violent racial strife that hit 
other southern cities such as St. Augustine, 675 Tampa, 676 
Jacksonville, 677 Miami, 678 Selma, 679 Birmingham, 680 and 
Montgomery 681 in the 1960s. 

David J. Garrow, ed., St. Augustine, Florida, 1963-1964: 
Mass Protest and Racial Violence (Brooklyn: Carlson 
Publishing, Inc.), 220-221. 

Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil 
Disorders, Otto Kerner (Chmn. ) (New York: New York Times Co 
1968), 411. 

677 Robert Weisbrot, Freedom Bound: A History of America's 
Civil Rights Movement (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 26. 



David R. Colburn and Jane L. Landers, eds . , The African 
American Heritage of Florida (Gainesville: The University 
Press of Florida, 1995) , 354. 


Robert Weisbrot, Freedom Bound: A History of America's 
Civil Rights Movement (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 138- 

680 Ibid., 71-72. 

Weisbrot, Freedom Bound, 39. 


This final chapter consists of four main sections. The 
first section is a summary of the evidence presented in this 
work. In the second section, based on evidence, conclusions 
are drawn concerning the relationship of the 1990s concept of 
community journalism to the work of Brechner, Davis, and 
Renick. Responses are provided for the major research 
questions that drove the study. In the third section, the 
conclusions are discussed in terms of what they mean, what 
they explain, and what they portend. In the final section, 
possibilities for continuing research are suggested 


Community journalism, for this work, is defined as 
journalism based on communitarianism. Communitarianism is 
defined as the thesis that the community, rather than the 
individual, the state, the nation, or any other entity, is 
and should be at the center of our value system. 

Existential communitarianism is defined as concerned 
primarily with community, but drawing from the principles of 
existentialism to include concern for individuals within the 



community as well as concern for personal responsibility. 682 
The Webster definition of existentialism has been used. 
Existentialism is defined as centered upon the analysis of 
existence, specifically of individual human beings, that 
regards human existence as not exhaustively describable or 
understandable in idealistic or scientific terms, and that 
stresses the freedom and responsibility of the individual, 
the irreducible uniqueness of an ethical or religious 
situation, and usu. the isolation and subjective experiences 
(as of anxiety, guilt, dread, anguish) of an individual 
therein." 683 

It was important to establish the definition of 
community journalism for this work because community 
journalists have themselves failed to define what they do. 
It has been mentioned earlier that this reluctance to define 
has forced those who study community journalism, as well as 
those who would criticize it, to use their own observation 
and experience to establish a definition. Definitions of 
communitarians im and existentialism were necessary for this 

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, 
Massachusetts: G S C. Merriam Company, 1976), 291. 


work to insure that the reader would be functioning within 
the frame of reference of this study. 

Understanding the concepts of communitarianism and 
existentialism were important to this work because it is 
those concepts that formed the foundation of the work of Joe 
Brechner, Norm Davis, and Ralph Renick. It was those 
concepts that were considered important in this research to 
determine if either the group of three editorialists or the 
group of 1990s community journalists were operating with the 
interests of the community at the center of their actions. 

In an effort to determine which of the journalists and 
editorialists studied for this work were indeed community 
journalists, the research has examined several community 
journalism projects, supported as described earlier by the 
Pew Center for Civic Journalism. Projects in Charlotte, 
Madison, Tallahassee, Boston, and Seattle all showed evidence 
of concern with bottom-line considerations as at least 
partial motivation. They were being used to, as Freedom 
Forum ombudsman Paul Monasters said, "get some good vibes out 
there so that maybe people will start buying the paper 

6S " Merritt and McMasters, "Debate," 181. 


The projects in New Orleans and Columbus, Georgia, were 
somewhat different and reminiscent of the work of three 1960s 
era television editorialists: Joe Brechner, Norm Davis, and 
Ralph Renick. The New Orleans and Columbus projects were 
conceived out of concern for the community. In both 
instances, the journalists involved were risking something 
with little chance they would reap anything more than 
improving public life, just as Brechner, Davis, and Renick 
had done. 

In practicing his version of community journalism, Joe 
Brechner was answering one of the major criticisms of the 
media in the 1968 Kerner Commission long before the report 
was even issued. As explained in Chapter 3, the Commission 
said media had failed to include blacks in the mirror held 
up to Americans. Blacks were not visible in many 
communities; the white media ignored them. Commission 
members wrote in their report that blacks held the media in 
disdain because they could not seem themselves accurately 
portrayed in those media. Blacks, said the Commission, saw 
newspapers as no more than mouthpieces for the white power 

structure. 685 Orlando television viewers, black and white, 
got a different picture from the editorials and the news 
coverage of Channel Nine. 

Another Kerner Commission complaint, cited in Chapter 
10, against the news media in the Kerner Commission report 
was that media were not covering all the events surrounding 
the Civil Rights Movement. That had caused a problem in 
Detroit, for instance, when citizens knew there was rioting 
occurring, but saw no mention of it on television or in 

In a February 1998 interview, former WFTV-TV news 
director Ray Ruester said he and Brechner were committed to 
broadcasting all the news. The local newspaper, on the other 
hand, according to Ruester, did not publish some stories 
because of the fear of stirring up trouble. Kathy Amick 
Fuqua-Cardwell expressed a similar view in her 1992 master' s 
thesis for Rollins College. Had there been no Channel Nine 
during the sixties, and no Joe Brechner at the helm, it is 
possible rumors could have spread during Orlando' s hot sunder 
nights. It is possible Orlando could have experienced more 
tension, fed by lack of information. 

Disorders ^Ott" f^ 1 MViS ° ry C °^ S io„ on Civil 

Jo 1968)', 314 . ' Chaiman - <NSW YOrk = NSW Y -k Time, 

Brechner was awarded first place in the nation in the 
Community Service division by the National Conference of 
Mayors in 1964. In giving Brechner the award, Honolulu Mayor 
Neal S. Blaisdell cited the broadcaster' s editorials on 
community relations. 686 WFTV also won the DuPont Foundation 
award for service in the public interest in 1964. The award 
lauded WFTV for exposing its viewers to a generous range of 
viewpoints and attitudes. The foundation commended WFTV "for 
appealing ... for intelligence, moderation and good will in 
the solution of social problems that have only too often, in 
other communities been met with mindless violence." 687 

Brechner used several themes to convince his viewers 
that equality and fairness were the goals Orlando should 
strive for. He stressed fairness as black and white 
Orlandoans dealt with each other. He warned that a hostile 
racial atmosphere in Orlando could lead to the problems being 
encountered by other American cities in the 1960s, bringing 
both violence and economic decline to his city. He equated 
fairness and equality with patriotism. He branded members of 
extremist groups unpatriotic and out of place in Orlando, or 

The Corner Cupboard, 28 May 1964. 



387 "DuPont Foundation Award," WFTV editorial, 22 March 


anywhere else in America. He attempted to hold up a mirror 
for the citizens and leaders of Orlando, in which they would 
see a picture of what he hoped they would become. In so 
doing, Brechner helped shape the Orlando of the sixties and 
beyond and contributed to the successful effort to keep 
Orlando from experiencing the violent racial strife that hit 
other southern cities in the 1960s. 
Davi g 

Newspaper, magazine, and journal reports from the 1960s 
give WJXT the lion' s share of credit for spurring the 
community and community leaders to action in voting out a 
corrupt, inefficient form of government. There is no record 
of other media in Jacksonville presenting investigative 
reports until after WJXT had taken a long lead. 

Although Richard Martin, who wrote for the Florida 
Times-Union, claimed credit for being the driving media force 
behind consolidation in Jacksonville and Duval County, the 
evidence shows that Norm Davis and his co-workers at WJXT-TV 
were at least as strong and probably a stronger factor than 
Richard Martin and the Times Union in governmental change. 
It was a grand jury called because of the urging of Davis and 
as a result of the WJXT investigative reports, that delivered 
indictments against two of the five Jacksonville city 

commissioners, indictments against four of nine city 
councilmen, and indictments of the city auditor and the city 
recreation chief. Those same editorials and investigative 
reports resulted in the grand jury censure and subsequent 
resignation of the Jacksonville tax assessor. Grand jury 
members made it clear in their final report what they thought 
should happen next: "We recommend a complete revision of the 
governmental structure of the City of Jacksonville." 668 

There can be little doubt that Martin and the Times- 
Union were important contributing factors to the "yes" vote 
for consolidation. There can be little doubt that the 
newspaper was an important force in the community. However, 
some of the evidence points to WJXT as a much more important 
factor than Martin considered it to be. It is probable that 
without WJXT, Jacksonville would have continued to struggle 
under the old, inefficient, redundant, and corrupt form of 
government and that consolidation would have remained a dream 
for community leaders who thought the city and county 
deserved better. 

Like the other editorialist subjects of this project, 
Ralph Renick displayed a consistent communitarian spirit, 

Cited in Martin's Consolidation, 88. 


delivering editorials that urged others in his society to do 
the right thing. Renick was responsible for more editorials 
than either Brechner or Davis, in part because he was first, 
in part because he stayed longest. 

The Miami broadcaster' s editorials were sometimes in the 
form of crusades, sometimes on the same subject for many 
consecutive nights. The apparent effectiveness of his 
crusades is easier to gauge when he was editorializing on 
striptease establishments or unsanitary restaurants. Results 
of campaigns on crime, governmental corruption, and civil 
rights are not as easily measured. 

Like the others, Renick risked something when he voiced 
strong opinions. There was risk in terms of personal safety 
and of financial well-being. Perhaps he took the greatest 
risk in editorializing on civil rights when he "decided not 
to duck," risking the ire of advertisers and viewers in the 
South of the mid-1900s. He used his nightly editorials to 
make an attempt to better his community. 

Conclnsi m-,* 
The purpose of this study has been to compare and 
contrast the community journalism of the 1990s with the 
community journalism practiced by Joe Brechner, Norm Davis, 
and Ralph Renick. Three major questions drove this research. 


The first asked, What is community journalism? The second 
was, Were the three editorialists who are the focus of this 
research community journalists and, if so, what made them 
community journalists? And the third was, Should journalists 
of the year 2000 and beyond consider Brechner, Davis, and 
Renick journalists to be emulated? This is a study 
significant to modern-day journalists who search for ways to 
restore their credibility and public trust. This research 
suggests it is possible there is value for modern journalists 
in studying the work of Brechner, Renick, and Davis. 
What is Community Jour nalism? 

To define community journalism, it is necessary also to 
explore what it is not. This research has shown that 
community journalism as practiced in the 1990s lacked the 
genuine purpose of improving the communities of those who 
were calling themselves community journalists. It has also 
shown that 1990s community journalism lacked the element of 

A community journalist as defined in Chapter 1 of this 
work is someone who is willing to put the interests of 
community above one's own interests. Joe Brechner, Norm 
Davis and Ralph Renick all fit that definition, as well as 
the definition of existential journalists because they were 


willing to use their talents and their medium to enhance the 

lives of those around them. This definition is not what most 

community journalists espouse. Normally, community 

journalism is an attempt to make the journalist part of the 

community and, therefore, a beneficiary of the public 

journalism project. That is not what Ralph Renick, Joe 

Brechner, and Norm Davis intended. They intended one thing — 

that their editorials would contribute to the social health 

of their communities. It was communitarianism with an 

important additional factor. In each case, there was an 

element of existentialism. 689 Each of these editorialists was 

intent on making the most of his talents to enrich the lives 

of his community and the individuals in those communities. 

Brechne r. Davis and Renick: Real Community 

The definition of community journalism as it applies to 
this research has been restated in this chapter. Brechner, 

Defined in Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary as 
"A chiefly 20 th Century philosophy that is centered upon the 
analysis of existence specif, of individual human beings, 
that regards human existence as not exhaustively describable 
or understandable in idealistic or scientific terms, and that 
stresses the freedom and responsibility of the individual, 
the irreducible uniqueness of an ethical or religious 
situation, and usu. the isolation and subjective experiences 
(as of anxiety, guilt, dread, anguish) of an individual 
therein." (Springfield, MA: G & C. Merriam Company, 1976) , 


Davis, and Renick all placed their communities above their 
own self-interest and safety. They acted as existential 
communitarians, which is to say they took responsibility for 
improving their communities. The three editorialists also 
practiced virtuous behavior by Aristotle' s standard. 

Community journalism, as practiced by television 
stations WJXT, WTVJ, and WFTV, although no one at the 
stations is known to have called it that, involved what 
William Winn of the Columbus Ledger called "getting into the 
boat with the people." 

Brechner et al. displayed their concern for community 
above all else by regularly putting ratings and personal 
safety at risk as they encouraged fair, responsible behavior 
by other members of their communities. Samples of the 
editorials of the three, interspersed throughout this work 
and included in the appendices, display an apparent lack of 
fear of negative reaction from those who were certain to 
disagree with them. 

The three were clearly not taking the path many of their 
contemporaries were accused of following. It was far more 
common for broadcast editorialists during the time period 
covered in this oeuvre to take the path of least resistance, 
to editorialize on safe topics: "[ E] ditorials championing 


motherhood and demanding fearlessly that Main Street' s name 
be changed to Affluent Way were more the rule than the 
exception." 690 In all respects, Messrs. Brechner, Davis, and 
Renick fit the definitions of community journalist as 
established in this research. 
Worthy of Imitation? 

In answering the third question posed by this research, 
"Should journalists of the year 2000 and beyond consider 
Brechner, Davis, and Renick journalists to be emulated?" it 
is necessary only to return to the principles that have 
repeatedly been mentioned herein: A deed is not virtuous 
unless it is done with virtuous intent, and Existential 
communitarianism is the standard to be followed. 

If community journalism in the 1990s had been practiced 
as many of its proponents preached, it might have fallen into 
the category of a virtuous deed, practiced by existential 
communitarians . 
Community Journalists of the 1990s 

Many who practiced community journalism in the 1990s did 
so with an eye on how it would look to readers and viewers, 
not how it could positively affect the lives of those readers 

690 William A. Wood, Electronic Journalism (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1967), 65. 


and viewers. There was seemingly much to be gained by 
becoming partners in the community. Journalists must ask, 
however, if that makes this form of community journalism the 
path to take as print and broadcast outlets attempt to head 
off erosion of their readership and viewership. They must 
ask themselves if they hamstring themselves in the effort to 
offer fair assessments of the group' s activities when they 
become part of the group about which they report, rather than 
stepping outside the group and taking risks. They must ask 
if they are any more than group propagandists when they 
become part of the group on which they report. Even if they 
somehow manage to sustain a capacity for fairness in their 
involvement, they must ask if they will appear to have lost 
objectivity, thereby losing the support of even the minority 
to whom they are pledged to give a fair hearing. Examination 
of the evidence presented in this research makes it clear 
that the answer to all of these questions is "No" and that 
the path chosen by Brechner, Davis, and Renick is a more 
likely path to reestablishing trust between press and public. 
An important point to be reiterated in this regard is the 
importance of motivation. 

Journalists of the 1990s should have also found it 
strange that newspapers, radio stations, and television 


stations were all in partnership in the majority of these 
projects. When supposedly independent news organizations are 
involved in partnerships, even more of the diversity of the 
information provided to a community has been lost, and the 
Hutchins Commission complaint about too much control of the 
press in the hands of too few resonates. 

What of Davis Merritt' s claim in the 1990s that a 
journalist should not put so much stock in objectivity, that 
only a journalist involved in the community can hope to cover 
that community fairly and to take back the allegiance of the 
news consumer? McMasters answered that with a comparison of 
a physician and a journalist. It is not that a physician 
does not care about her patient when she/he makes objective 
decisions about treatment. It is because the physician does 
care that she/he is making objective decisions based on what 
she/he feels will pull the patient through. 

Joe Brechner, Norm Davis, and Ralph Renick were all 
practicing community journalism quite differently than were 
the self-proclaimed community journalists of the 1990s. This 
research has shown that they were, in fact, community 
journalists with emphasis on the communitarian aspect of 
community journalism. Examination of the motives of the two 


groups shows a clear-cut difference in the intent behind 
their actions. Community journalists of the 1990s were more 
interested in bringing viewers and readers back to television 
sets and news stands than in contributing to the welfare of 
their communities. It was the opposite with Brechner, Davis, 
and Renick. In fact, the three editorialists risked driving 
viewers away. It is not apparent why journalists of the 
1990s had developed an approach so different from the 
approach of Brechner, Davis, and Renick. 

What is apparent is if the press is to repair its 
image, pandering to the public is not the way. The press 
must engage in the "vigorous mutual criticism" advised by the 
Hutchins Commission. What such "vigorous mutual criticism" 
is likely to determine is that the press has evolved into a 
profession that practices relativism to the extreme, which 
results, as Himmelfarb noted, in having no morality at all. 691 
What else was community journalism but social relativism for 
the nineties? It was the "siren song," mentioned earlier. 

691 G. Himmelfarb, The Demoralization of Society: From 
Victorian Virtues to Modern Values (New York: A. A. Knopf, 
1995), 239-241. 


It was the road that promised salvation for journalism but 
was likely to deliver something quite different. 

Even a community journalist with good intentions can go 
astray. Merritt claimed what was needed was a symbiosis 
between politics and journalism. Merritt did not intend to 
say that this symbiosis between politics and journalism is to 
be a "you scratch mine, I' 11 scratch yours" kind of 
relationship, and he was careful to stress that he had the 
good of democracy in mind when suggesting a journalism/ 
politics symbiosis. 693 Even the appearance of "you scratch 
mine, I' 11 scratch yours" between journalists and politicians 

Another of the Hutchins Commission' s recommendations was a 
system for offering young journalists a better educational 
foundation and, by implication, a better foundation in 
ethics. Many journalism ethics educators agree that a 
foundation in ethics in journalism school frees a journalist 
from the impossible burden of having to agonize over every 
ethical decision in the field because the agonizing has been 
done in training. That is, after all, the point of 
journalism ethics education; to apply the philosophical 
models to practical problems in a classroom situation so the 
young journalist will not be operating without a road map 
when he/she is in the field. What is even worse for 
journalism is the practitioner who sees no need for agonizing 
because he has not been trained even to recognize a moral 
dilemma. The topic of ethics education is a subject for 
another paper. It is mentioned here only to suggest that 
there is an alternative to the ill-advised communitarian 
journalism effort. 

693 Merritt, Public Journalism and Public Life, 52. Merritt 
further explained this point in a personal conversation in 
Columbia, SC, 12 October 1998. 


is dangerous. It is not only a matter of semantics to 
suggest that the real symbiosis in America has been between 
citizens and the press. There was no symbiosis between the 
political establishment and Brechner, Davis, or Renick. All 
three worked with government leaders who also had the good of 
community at heart, but all three were unabashed critics of 
those whose actions harmed their communities. The symbiosis 
of the three editorialists was with the citizens of their 
communities. If journalism loses sight of that relationship 
between press and public and allows itself to be drawn into a 
symbiotic relationship with politicians who are not also 
communitarians, community journalism will become not only 
disingenuous but also dangerous to democracy. 

Certainly there were exceptions in the 1990s, as in the 
case of the rimes Picayune and the Columbus Ledger. However, 
even the staunchest supporters of community journalism were 
saying things such as "You can' t buy coverage like that on 
the front page of the Seattle Times," or "[ B] y getting people 
in on the ground floor, getting them more excited about this 
kind of process, we think they become better, or more 
regular, newspaper readers." Statements such as those betray 
self-serving motivations rather than intent to improve public 


life. They show community journalists firmly planted on an 
anti-Aristotelian/Sally Fields/bottom-line driven foundation. 

Brechner, Davis, and Renick fall into the category of 
community journalists lauded by Davis Merritt, William Winn, 
and other more modern members of the press. Because that is 
the case, a logical assumption would be that 1990s community 
journalists were following the Brechner, Davis, Renick model. 
That was not the case. Community journalism, as practiced in 
the 1990s, resembled more a model of public relations than of 
existential communitarianism. 

Critics of public journalism, such as Paul McMasters, 
the past president of the Society of Professional Journalists 
and First Amendment Ombudsman for the Freedom Forum; Ralph 
Barney, a professor at Brigham Young University; and others, 
have been quoted in this work. The one criticism heard most 
frequently from community journalism critics of the 1990s is 
that a major thrust, perhaps the major thrust of community 
journalism, appears to be self-serving, i.e., "the recapture 
of credibility by journalism." 694 

Had they examined the editorial crusades of the three 
television broadcasters studied for the present research, 
McMasters and the others who have criticized community 

69i Barney, "Community Journalism," 140-151. 


journalism would have found none of the reluctance to rain on 
society' s parade, none of the self-serving attempts to build 
readership and viewership found in latter day community 
Leading the Way 

What makes the contributions of Brechner, Davis, and 
Renick more impressive is the context of their times. All 
displayed courage beyond that demanded of an independent 
editorialist of the 1990s. A fact most important for 
Brechner and Renick — Florida, although a state considered 
part of the new South, was still in many ways part of the old 
South. White racist attitudes were a fact of life for blacks 
attempting to survive 20 th century Florida. Some Florida 
cities avoided racial strife for a time because city 
government and business leaders recognized the importance of 
presenting a peaceful facade. However, with a violent, 
repressive racial background that included much Ku Klux Klan 
activity, cosmetic attempts at integration would not likely 
have been enough to allow some areas of the state to escape 
much of the racial turmoil that was typical of 1960s America. 
Other influences were needed, among them independent 
editorial voices. 


Becoming a strong editorial voice, even a crusading 
editorialist, took great courage in the late 1950s through 
the decade of the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Mary Ann 
Cusack 695 wrote that broadcasters had shown little of the 
fortitude it took to handle controversial subjects. 
Examination of the regulatory climate for broadcasters in 
this time period reveals that there were mixed signals for 
editorialists from the Federal Communications Commission, 
there was lack of trust from print journalists and other 
broadcasters, there was a public impression that broadcasters 
lacked intellectual depth, and there was the danger of 
offending advertisers by broadcasting controversial opinions. 
The combination of these factors made broadcast 
editorializing a practice to be avoided by the faint-hearted. 

Brechner, Davis, and Renick were firm believers in the 
editorial as a force for positive change in their 
communities. Davis stated in a 1999 interview that it was 
during his crusade against corruption in Jacksonville area 
government that he realized how much one person could do to 
change his community for the better. Yet, none of the three 
gave in to the Sally Fields syndrome mentioned by McMasters. 
They were willing to incur the wrath of government leaders as 

695 See Chapter 6. 


well as viewers and advertisers in their attempt to 
contribute to their communities. 
Friends in the Front Office 

In one sense Brechner et al. had an advantage over other 
broadcasters of their own time as well as over many of the 
community journalists of the 1990s. They had the support of 
management . 

Joe Brechner was management, owner, and general manager 
of WFTV-TV. There was no one looking over his shoulder but 
the community when he wrote his editorials. There was no 
news director editing his copy. He wrote editorials for the 
news director and anchor to read. 

Norm Davis had the unswerving support of News Director 
Bill Grove and General Manager Glenn Marshall. Davis said in 
his 1999 interview that Marshall allowed editorials 
criticizing some of Marshall' s associates to air without 
alteration. WJXT' s parent company, Post-Newsweek, was also a 
strong supporter of the WJXT editorial campaigns. 

Ralph Renick was given free rein over newsroom affairs 
at WTVJ-TV by Mitchell Wolfson. Wolfson was the Wometco 
partner in charge of WTVJ. Wolfson also held strong beliefs 


on the editorial responsibilities of a television station and 
was quoted in this work. 696 

Managerial support was another of the converging factors 
that allowed Brechner, Davis, and Renick to editorialize at 
their most effective levels. Had any of the three 
editorialists been working for one of the many stations 
owners or managers who were generally so timid in the years 
following enactment of the Fairness Doctrine, this would be a 
different history. Had any one of the three been working for 
one of the many station owners who considered news to be no 
more than another means of bringing in station revenue, it is 
not likely they could have showed the editorial courage they 
did. Had the three been editorializing in the 1990s, at a 
time when individual media outlets were being taken over by 
multimedia conglomerates, it is unlikely they would have had 
the freedom to embark upon the crusades that made them 
positive forces within their communities. 697 

See Chapter 8. 

Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, 4 ed. (Boston: Beacon 
Press, 1992), 4, 5, 15, 30, 59, 205, 206. Bagdikian made the 
argument that, not only was media power becoming concentrated 
in fewer than a dozen big companies, but that those few 
companies did not offer even limited intellectual or 
editorial diversity because they were controlled by people of 
one, profit-oriented, big-business view. 


Motivation is Primary 

There is both encouraging and discouraging news in this 
research for television journalists. It is encouraging to 
realize that a genuinely altruistic, community-minded 
journalist can have such an effect on a community. Norm 
Davis made note of that in his 1999 interview. What is 
discouraging for television news practitioners is that later 
so-called "community" efforts were driven as much by 
financial motivations as by the desire to do good journalism. 

Success in the effort to better community is not the 
only measure of a community journalist. A more important 
measure is intent. That was the foremost difference found in 
comparing Brechner et al. with the 1990s community 
journalists. Brechner, Davis, and Renick were motivated by 
concern for their communities; they were motivated by belief 
in fairness; they were motivated by a belief that their 
positions carried a responsibility to use the means available 
to them to improve life in their communities. A better 
community life was the only reward they sought in embarking 
on editorial crusades. The 1990s community journalists were 
seeking a different kind of reward; they were reaching for 
increased readership and viewership. It was the bottom line 
that motivated them. It was not enhancement of community. 


As Aristotle asserted, it is motivation that determines 
virtuousness. Motivation is primary. 

Suggestions for Further Research 
Avenues of future research to be explored are many and 
lead to two main roads: (1) community journalism; and (2) 
expanded work on Brechner, Davis, and Renick. As the press 
moves into the 21 st century, community journalists will fine- 
tune the way they practice their brand of reporting. 
Researchers may be able to work from a clearer reference 
point if community journalists can finally define what they 
do and what community journalism is. As the century begins, 
there is no agreed-upon definition of community journalism — 
and no lines of demarcation between community journalism, 
public journalism, civic journalism, and the other 
appellations for this form of reporting. Once those 
distinctions are made, researchers will have some perspective 
from which they can begin looking back on the development of 
community journalism and how it has evolved. They will also 
be able to explore with more certainty the differences 
between the various branches of community journalism. 

Much exploration is needed to determine why there was 
such a difference in the community journalism of Brechner, 
Davis, and Renick and community journalists of the 1990s. 


Researchers will have to ask why willingness to risk 
alienation of audience and advertiser declined in the 1990s, 
even among those who professed a desire to use their 
journalism to improve society and to get more people involved 
in the workings of democracy. This research has shown there 
was a difference but has not attempted to determine precisely 

This work has not included an examination of television 
editorialists of more recent times, but that, too, is an area 
with possibilities for future research. Of primary 
importance is the question of why there are so few who 
editorialize on TV as the Second Millennium begins. In 
October 1999, the Society of Professional Journalists dropped 
the broadcast editorials division from its national Sigma 
Delta Chi awards for excellence in journalism. A year 
earlier, the winner of the best editorials award had been 
chosen from a field of only three broadcasters who had 
submitted entries. 698 Perhaps some of the answers will be 
similar to the answers regarding the lack of courage in 
general on the part of modern-day broadcasters. 

One possibility in examining that apparent lack of 
courage is the trend discussed earlier in this work toward 

'I Can't Hear You," Broadcasting i Cable, 14 June 2000, 1. 


concentration of ownership. Already discussed is the 
management support afforded the three editorialists. 
Although Davis and Renick, and Brechner to a lesser degree, 
were working for companies with multiple holdings, those 
companies were small enough to be controlled by individuals. 
Those individuals expressed strong commitment to using their 
television stations to improve the communities in which they 
were located. Bagdikian' s lamentation that media outlets are 
being bought up and subsumed into giant corporations at such 
a rapid rate that the number of editorial voices in society 
is rapidly declining has previously been cited in this work. 
Future researchers should find this area fertile in 
attempting to determine if true community journalism is still 
possible or is a victim of concentration of control of mass 

A search of literature reveals no attempts to compare 
1990s community journalists with the muckrakers of the early 
20 th century. A modern-day researcher would find material for 
both comparison and contrast. The modern-day researcher will 
also find ample opportunity to compare and contrast the 1990s 
community journalists with journalists of other time periods 
in United States history. There were clearly elements of 


community journalism, for instance, in the Revolutionary 
press and the abolitionist press of the Civil War era. 

Jay Rosen, who has been cited in this work, based much 
of his own examination of community journalism on the 
Dewey/Lippmann argument over whether the public is capable of 
assuming an active role in its own governance. Although this 
is an area sometimes more comfortably examined by political 
scientists, it is still an area important to anyone exploring 
community journalism. 

For historical researchers, it will be further 
examination of the work of Brechner, Davis, and Renick that 
will provide the richest possibilities. All three 
editorialists were multi-faceted. Brechner and Renick in 
particular are worthy of full biographies because of their 
contributions to the industry and their communities. Study 
of these editorialists will also be valuable for its 
contribution to research regarding the continuum of 
broadcasting. As previously mentioned, they illustrate a 
phase of broadcasting that appears to be a touchstone for 
responsible, effective editorializing that did not exist 
before the period studied and disappeared as the broadcast 
industry changed. 


Brechner was active in civil rights even in the days of 
World War II when he wrote radio programs for the armed 
services. His early years as a professional broadcaster, 
spent in Silver Spring, Maryland, were when he first began 
editorializing. Brechner wrote opinion columns for the 
Orlando Sentinel for a decade after he was forced by the 
Federal Communications Commission to sell WFTV-TV. 699 Those 
columns continued many of the themes he first visited in his 
television editorials. His battle with the FCC over control 
of WFTV-TV became the longest-running fight of any individual 
broadcaster with the FCC in the Commission' s history. 

A major thrust of Brechner' s effort during his broadcast 
career was in the area of freedom of information. He fought 
for decades for press access to courtroom proceedings and for 
public access to information on government activity. The 
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University 

699 Brechner had operated WFTV on a temporary license since 
putting the station on the air. When other prospective 
operators applied for licenses to run the station, an FCC 
investigation found that one of the minor partners in the 
company had been involved in gambling. It was on that basis 
that the FCC determined another applicant would be awarded 
the license to operate WFTV and Brechner would be forced to 
sell his interest. Interview with Marion Brechner, 9 March 
1998. Also vital to the decision to remove Brechner from 
station operation was the issue of minority ownership. Two 
black shareholders owned an interest in the group that was 
finally awarded the operating license for Channel 9. Linda 
Perry, "A TV Pioneer's Crusade," 153-154. 


of Florida was established with a grant from Brechner to 
carry on his work. All of these factors make Brechner worthy 
of further study. 

Ralph Renick continued to broadcast television news for 
two decades after the period covered by this research. He 
was considered a national figure in television news although 
working in a local market. He was a member of the National 
News Council, attempting to set standards of ethics for 
broadcast journalists. In addition, he retired from 
broadcasting temporarily to make a brief run for governor of 
the state of Florida. It was an unsuccessful attempt, and 
Renick returned to broadcasting. 

The surviving family members of both Brechner and Renick 
have been cooperative in compiling information for this 
research and have provided much information that will be 
valuable in compiling biographies of both men. Those 
biographies are already in progress as of this writing. 


Broadcast: November 1, 1963 

1:30, 6:00 and 11:00 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


Last Thursday, a WFTV editorial entitled "Rabble in 
Mario" urged that "the silent, fair minded citizens" of 
Florida recover control of their local areas which have 
become trouble-ridden by racial disturbances. The Channel 
9 editorial said: "Central Florida must control rabble 
rousing on either side of the racial issue." 

Today' s Editorial Mailbag includes some of the 
reaction to last week's editorial. 

A Sanford man says: "I am writing to tell you what I 
think of your TV editorials. They stink." The critic who 
reportedly is connected with the White Citizens Council 
says, "I would be ashamed a man with your intelligence to 
sit and praise the nigger not negro, like you do on TV." 

A Lake Alfred man suggested that we move North. His 
letter says, "If you do not approve of the way we feel in 

Note: Hundreds of the editorials of Joe Brechner were 
examined during the course of this research. All of the 
Brechner editorials from the 1960s were perused. 

The editorials chosen for Appendix A illustrate 
Brechner' s strong editorial attack on the Ku Klux Klan, as 
well as viewer reaction to the editorials. There is also 
an editorial that illustrates his "It could happen here" 
strategy. The Brechner editorials are presented in 
chronological order. 



the South suggest you catch a train with your "pink' 
counterparts. We have not built a fence across the Mason- 
Dixon line and plenty of roads still point North." 

Channel 9 received two postcards, unsigned, but 
obviously from the same person. The cards from St. Cloud 
contained illiterate scribbling, but we could make out the 
vulgar phrase "nigger lover" on each card. 

Most of the mail response to the WFTV editorial were 
simply reguests for copies of the editorial. Many of the 
reguests were from residents of Ocala. Some came without 
comment from officials in and around Ocala, the scene of 
recent racial disturbances. 

A student from the University of South Florida 
reguested copies of the editorial for use in connection 
with a course in Ethnic and Racial Relations. The student 
said: "I think that your editorial is so pertinent to the 
context of the course." 

The varied reaction, particularly some of the violent 
reaction, caused us to review and study the editorial again 
very carefully. The letter from the previously quoted 
Sanford man said, "I heard you praise Martin Luther King 
and Roy Wilkins. I also heard you say that the KKK and the 
White Citizens Council were subversive." The letter writer 
claims, and we quote: "J. Edgar Hoover provided that 
Martin Luther King and Roy Wilkins were communists." 

Reviewing the editorial we found no praise for anyone 
in the entire editorial. If J. Edgar Hoofer has proved, as 
the writer declares, that Martin Luther King and Roy 
Wilkins are communists, WFTV s News Department has never 
received such a communication. 

The editorial referred to the Ku Klux Klan as 
subversive because it is listed in the U.S. Attorney 
General' s book of subversive organizations as "advocating 
violence" in attempting to carry out the purpose of their 

Today* s Editorial Mailbag is an example of mediocre 
and primitive mentalities of those who support and advocate 
racial violence. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: June 22, 1964 

1:30, 6:00 and 11:00 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest-- 


More and more reports crowded into the WFTV newsroom 
this week-end telling of gang terrorism and the cowardice 
of hiding in rioting crowds, in our neighbor city of St. 

(PHOTO) One report told of a group of white hoodlums which 
beat a white integrationist senseless and then tried to 
drown him, while a gang of Ku Klux Klansmen stood by urging 
them on. 

This is a frighteningly sad case of advanced 
cowardice. As if the gang of toughs had not shown enough 
fear already when it took several of them to go after one 
man, rather than daring to make it a person to person 
showdown--if , indeed, that would have made sense— even more 
cowardice was shown by the adult members of the melee, the 
Klansmen, who stood safely out of range during the whole 
episode . 

It seems most interesting to note that these so-called 
protectors of the South' s sovereignty were the ones who 
bravely let others do their fighting for them, while they 
stood by shouting the eguivalent of the old "Let' s you and 
him fight" theme. 

(PHOTO) While police, who seemed to be conscientiously 
arresting integrationist demonstrators while ignoring legal 
responsibilities in dealing with segregationists, were 
working on one incident our reports show another gang of 
brave hoodlums decided to show how tough they were by 
running at top speed into a group of young Negro girls, as 
the girls waded in the surf at the already integrated St. 
Augustine Beach. 

One of the girls suffered a broken nose in the attack 
and others received minor injuries. And the hoods 
doubtless felt pleased with their strength and power, 
having beaten a group of young girls. 


The cowardice of St. Augustine's leaders does little 
to lend encouragement to those hoping for the enforcement 
of law in that troubled city. When police and city 
officials are more afraid of the opinions of a noisy few 
than they are of eroding rights and freedoms everyone 
suffers . 

When the toughs of St. Augustine feel there is enough 
safety in animal-like packs to ignore the laws of their 
communities it is time to remind them that within a few 
short weeks their same actions will be not only against 
local law, but the law of the land. 

We hope that by then they will realize that our 
freedoms are guaranteed to each person individually as an 
American — not as the member of a lawless gang. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: April 2, 1965 

1:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


As a result of recent violent deaths in the South and 
at the urging of President Johnson that the Ku Klux Klan 
must be stamped out, the House Un-American Activities 
Committee voted unanimously this week to investigate the 


Nationally, the Klan is not estimated to have a large 
membership — nothing compared to the membership in the 2 0' s. 
According to United Press International, Klan membership in 
Florida is estimated at 1,000. 

Active members still burn crosses of warning and 
fright and commit crimes of violence. KKK members still 
parade — in some areas unmasked as required now by local and 
state laws. 

We' ve seen them in the streets of Atlanta during a 
state-wide and local election. They paraded recently in 
Jacksonville. (FILM OUT) 

Here in Central Florida they have had cross burnings 
in the night at some outlying field. The Klan rarely 
permits photographers to take pictures of their cross 
burning rallies. 

(PIC KKK STICKER) The KKK sticker is believed to be a 
warning to those who may disagree with the Klan' s bigoted 
views. WFTV once had such a sticker pasted on our front 
door which read: "A Ku Klux Klansman was here." 

The time has come to eliminate this vicious and 
dangerous organization which rides in the night to 
frighten, beat, bomb and murder without fear or 
apprehension and punishment. (PIC) We must rid ourselves 
of these shrouded examples of lawlessness from a better-to- 
be-forgotten past. The Klan' s philosophies and activities 
have not only delayed progress in the South — but where they 
exist they have been a costly economic and social cancer. 


The investigation to expose the Ku Klux Klan 
nationally will be lengthy and tedious. Local and state 
officials should begin now to put our house in order; to 
expose and discharge the die-hard Klansmen in Florida who 
have infiltrated into positions of public trust. 

There should be no place in any public office or law 
enforcement agency for members of an organization that 
condones crime, including violence and murder. 

Central Florida and the state have moved through these 
difficult times with a minimum of disturbance. We do not 
need, nor do we want, the questionable assistance of the Ku 
Klux Klan or any other terroristic organization. 

WFTV agrees with Congressman Edwin Edward Willis of 
Louisiana, Chairman of the House Un-American Activities 
Committee which will investigate the Klan. Congressman 
Willis said: "Klanism is incompatible with Americanism." 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: May 11, 1965 

1:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


The Ku Klux Klan is currently under the watchful eyes 
of the entire world. A Congressional committee is 
intensifying plans for a thorough investigation of the 
Klan. (PIC) It is likely that anti-Klan legislation may 
be forthcoming for the so-called "Invisible Empire" which 
is already on the Attorney General' s list of subversive 
organizations. Although such legislation may be desirable 
it will not wipe out the Klan. 

First, we should consider what type person belongs to 
the Klan and what type person and community either condones 
the existence of the KKK or closes its eyes to the Klan' s 
unscrupulous activities and violence. 

The North Carolina CHARLOTTE OBSERVER defined Klansmen 
in a series of articles. (PIC KLAN PICKETS) The report 
described members as "decent, simple people who turn to the 
Klan out of frustration." The report explained that KKK 
members are "the backwash of white society, the low income, 
the poorly educated laborer or farmer who sees in the Ku 
Klux Klan . . . the only hope of preserving his station in 
society' s changing order." (UNQUOTE) The Ku Klux Klan may 
also include trouble-makers, bigots and maniacs. (PIC 
SHELTON) However, Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of the 
United Klans of America, said recently that the Klan is 
"trying to change its image." Shelton said: "We don't go 
in for floggin' , lynchin' , and hangin' ." But when Shelton 
appeared before the Alabama Legislature to oppose an anti- 
flogging bill he said: "I am glad that there are still men 
somewhere who will take matters into their own hands when 
the hands of the law are tied." (UNQUOTE) 

(PIC MAP) The Klan is concentrated in the South, with 
membership estimated at 10,000. Northeast Florida is the 
only section of the state where the Klan is significantly 
active. It is pitifully ironic that St. Augustine, the 
oldest city in America, is considered the stronghold of 
Florida' s clandestine Klan. 


Klan leaders deny that they espouse or practice 
bigotry. The "native-born white Protestant only" members 
prefer to consider themselves a "semi-religious, fraternal 

Following the church bombing in Birmingham that took 
the lives of 4 Negro children, a Klan organizer speaking in 
St. Augustine said: "I don't know who bombed that church 
in Birmingham but if I did, I' d pin a medal on him." 

(PIC KKK CARTOON) Such deranged minds in control of a 
secret organization, no matter how small it may be, are a 
dangerous threat to any community. And the problem rests 
with the community. Legislation or denunciation will do no 
good unless the responsible citizens of local communities 
are aroused and openly resist and deplore the very 
existence of any organization that thrives on hatred and 

The Klan will only be eliminated if Southern citizens 
and civic leaders themselves, and particularly state and 
local political officials and law enforcement officers, 
forcefully and wholeheartedly state their revulsion and 
refuse support to this society of bigots know as the Ku 
Klux Klan. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: November 2, 1965 

12:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


Today' s snipes and gripes from viewers concern 
politics, the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society. 

A Winter Haven student wrote saying: (PIC LETTER) "I 
suspect your policies on the K.K.K. and John Birch Society. 
But I don' t think you should take sides in political 
elections." The tenth grade student said: "Remember there 
are still some Republicans." (UNQUOTE) 

In answer, Channel 9 and its management are members of 
the community and reserve the right of freedom of 
expression and opinions on any phase of community life. We 
believe in a two party system and have said so many times. 
We try to balance comment on issues between the parties and 
if, when the parties agree as on the road bond issue here 
in Central Florida, we invite participants from both 
parties. When management gives an editorial opinion, the 
opinion is based on all known facts from all sides on an 
issue, with admittedly whatever basic philosophy or 
prejudice we may have toward public issues. 

A Rockledge viewer sent for a recent Channel 9 
editorial which discussed the John Birch Society. (PIC 
LETTER) The letter said: "I would like to show it to the 
rest of my secret Un-American group." The viewer said: "I 
agree with you about the K.K.K. The are secret. We are 
not." (UNQUOTE) 

Channel 9 has heard this story many times. Yet the 
fact remains that John Birch Society membership figures are 
secret — probably because membership is so low. John Birch 
group meetings are secrete and closed to the news media. 
Channel 9 has been refused admittance on many occasions. 
The only time the John Birch Society is open and public is 
when Society public relations representatives want to issue 
a statement, or their speakers want to take the speaker' s 
platform to propagandize their organization and sell what 
we believe are radical, unsound, illogical political views. 


A Winter Haven viewer wrote concerning the John Birch 
Society. The letter was signed "R. Welch." Either the 
viewer was pulling our leg, or there' s another R. Welch 
besides the president of the Society. (PIC LETTER) The 
letter said: "I notice since the Chicago Tribune has set 
up shot in Orlando, your editorials aren' t as far to the 
lunatic left. Are you chicken?" (UNQUOTE) 

Channel 9 has made no analysis of the editorial 
pol8icies of the local newspaper. We have agreed and 
disagreed with the views of the newspaper. Our editorial 
decisions are based upon our own consideration, views and 
position which has been consistent throughout the years — 
although we are prepared to change our position based upon 
new facts or our own revised convictions. 

The issue isn't whether we're chicken. We do our best 
to be factually correct, direct and forthright. And we 
will continue to do the best we can with only one 
objective: to state an honest opinion. 

That' s snipes and gripes for another day. If you have 
one, send it to WFTV, Channel 9, Orlando, Florida, for 
consideration in the next Snipes and Gripes editorial. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: December 8, 1965 

12:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


"The whole nation can take heart from the fact that 
there are those in the south who believe in justice in 
racial matters and who are determined not to stand for acts 
of violence and terror." (PIC JOHNSON) This was the 
statement President Lyndon Johnson released after it was 
announced that an all-white jury in Montgomery, Alabama, 
had convicted three Ku Klux Klansmen on federal charges 
that grew out of the Selma freedom March, and the 
subsequent slaying of Mrs. Viola Liuzzo. 

Seven months ago one of the men convicted last week 
stood trial for the murder of Mrs. Liuzzo. At that time a 
Channel 9 editorial said: "The trial and the verdict is a 
legal matter. But the climate of hate which led to the 
murder and prevailed during the trial itself is a warning 
bell to other communities." 

(PIC 3 MEN) Some may feel that the 10 year sentences 
imposed against the three Ku Klux Klansmen was shallow 
justice. But the jury' s verdict was an indication of the 
changing times and attitudes. 

Some sections of the South have been accused of 
unreasonable and unjust racial practices and of maintaining 
a tradition which leads to hate and violence. There have 
been time in the past when the actions of some Southern 
all-white juries made a mockery of justice. But we feel 
confident that today, and in the future, juries will be 
influenced less by tradition or prejudice. This conscience 
of each citizen in each local community is becoming as it 
should be— the only determining factor of behavior and 
judgment in and out of the courtrooms. 

(PIC RIOT) Communities throughout the nation — large or 
small— have witnessed the moral and political deterioration 
of communities where fear and violence have prevailed. On 
the other hand, they have seen the peaceful progress that 
is possible where understanding, reasonableness and fair 
and sensible judgment prevail. 


(PIC 3 MEN) It is not proper for those of us outside the 
courtroom to judge the innocence or guilt of those who have 
been accused of heinous crimes against their fellow man. 
But each citizen, each community, and the entire nation 
must bear the responsibility of justice miscarried, and an 
environment that breeds and permeates hatred and violence 
anywhere within our country. 

Most communities in Florida have met changing times 
with moderation and common sense. We see similar 
intelligent progress throughout the nation. There may be 
temporary set-backs and unexpected problems. But so long 
as this national insistence prevails for fair play, equal 
justice and common rights for all, our nation is well on 
the road to solving the difficulties of human relations in 
our complex society. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: January 6, 1966 

12:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


The recent squabble over continued investigation of 

the Ku Klux Klan by the House Committee on Un-American 

Activities and the investigation itself may prove of some 
value to the American public. 

Even the small amount of information coming out of the 
investigation only confirms what we' ve said all along--the 
Ku Klux Klan is a "kooky" secret, subversive racket. When 
the hoods come off and the truth is revealed, or their 
leaders resort to constitutional amendments to avoid 
testifying, the public has seen a dismal display of 
cowardice, bigotry and deceit. 

In the past few years organizations such as the Ku 
Klux Klan, the pseudo-conservative groups such as the John 
Birch Society, White Citizens Council, the so-called anti- 
Communist and self-styled Christian Crusade societies, 
alleged patriotic organizations and a variety of other 
self-serving groups have been rebuffed, shunned and ignored 
by the majority of the citizens of our communities. 

A few years ago organization meetings and speeches by 
itinerant speakers were widely publicized and created a 
furor of comment and discussion. (CARTOON) In recent 
months some meetings have been held; some of the same 
traveling " hate-for-sale" peddlers have been in Central 
Florida, but the public has generally turned a cold 
shoulder to these unwelcome visitors who thrive on discord 
and generalized charges, and innuendoes to slander 
responsible citizens and organizations. 

We can' t say this is true everywhere in the country, 
but Central Florida has weathered the storm of extremist 
rabble-rousing and we feel confident the trend will not 

Public exposure and discussion may be responsible for 
the current public contempt in which these irresponsible 
groups and individuals are held. Many of the individuals 
and organizations which have operated, (CARTOON) or 


occasionally visited in our area, came in with high- 
sounding programs and purpose. But when they were exposed 
to public discussion and debate they are revealed as 
intruders and hate-mongers who would upset the tranguility 
of our community and walk away with the money collected 
from the frightened and the gullible, with no accounting 
for the use of the funds. 

Central Florida has managed to escape some of the 
viciousness that has penetrated other fear-ridden 
communities which fell prey to extremists. We have been 
able to discuss and debate conservative, moderate and 
liberal views without resorting to subversion and deceit to 
stifle or limit hones, open democratic discussion. 
(CARTOON) National leaders in both parties have now openly 
condemned and rebuked extremists who breed national 
dissension and suspicion. 

Extremist business has been bad business in our 
communities. And now it has become less profitable in 
other parts of the nation. 

But we cannot let down our guard. 

To maintain our freedom we must constantly protect it. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: September 13, 1966 

12:45, 5:55 and 11:15 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


It was a thought-provoking moment we saw on television 
the other evening when Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen walked 
through the streets of his city alone in the quiet 
aftermath of a race riot. (PIC MAYOR ALLEN) His courage 
in personally attempting to prevent the riot was matched by 
his philosophic observations later that night when he was 
interviewed by a television newsman. 

While personally distressed at his own failure to 
prevent the riot, Mayor Allen deserves praise for his 
personal effort to prevent what could have become a much 
more serious situation. His strict and stern enforcement 
of the law may well have accounted for the minimum damage 
and minimum injuries that resulted from the riot. (PIC) 
While placing the blame for the violence on some 
irresponsible Negro leaders, the mayor also recognized and 
showed a deep understanding of the conditions which made it 
possible for those leaders to stir up trouble. He pointed 
out the continuing problem of big cities attracting more 
people from smaller towns and rural areas. Many newcomers 
are unprepared for the difficulties of living in a big 
city. As the Mayor said, many new city dwellers are 
untrained, unqualified for other than the most menial work; 
they don' t know how to seek help and assistance; and they 
move into already crowded areas creating conditions within 
certain neighborhoods that are intolerable. 

Mayor Allen emphasized that there was much work to be 
done in restraining such individuals, as well as to provide 
decent housing. The Mayor said: "That is why we are doing 
everything possible and are seeking every available amount 
of federal assistance to clear out our slums and to improve 
living conditions." (UNQUOTE) 

It is this recognition of the facts of life — this 
understanding — which marked Mayor Allen' s full 
comprehension of the issues. 

(PIC) These observations and the experience in Atlanta 
should serve as a guide to city officials throughout the 


country and within the state of Florida. Every responsible 
official and community leader should recognize the 
conditions that lead to racial disturbance within a 

False economies and confused philosophies which 
prevent quick rehabilitation of slum areas add up to 
indifference and neglect that could lead to trouble. Only 
the most short-sighted and the foolish would block the 
acceptance of federal funds provided from taxes paid by 
local citizens and businesses which could be used to speed 
up the progress of slum clearance, along with educational 
and training programs and other devices of the war on 
poverty programs. 

(CARTOON) Economizing or philosophizing on slum clearance 
and human problems instead of organized efforts to improve 
living conditions can prove to be false economy and costly 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: October 17, 1967 

12:45, 6:25 and 11:20 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest-- 


If there is anything not needed in Central Florida in 
our efforts to develop growth and expansion, it is the 
renewed menace of the Ku Klux Klan. (PIC CLAN POSTER) 

Recent intensified efforts by Robert Shelton, the 
Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America, indicate 
that he and his hooded cohorts want to make Central Florida 
a major Klan concentration center. 

Now appealing his conviction on Contempt of Congress, 
a sentence of a year in prison, Shelton is striving to 
renew the strength of the KKK by holding rallies and 
membership drives here in Florida. After considerable 
inside fighting among various Klan factions, Shelton has 
restored his control over the United Klan. (SILENT FILM) 

Last weekend the United Klan held rallies in Lake 
Wales and Orlando. By our count some 400 persons, 
including Klan leaders and security guards attended the 
meeting at Kemp' s Coliseum here in Orlando. The KKK held a 
small motorcade through the city and concluded their 
meeting with a cross burning in the patio area of Kemp' s 

While the issue of freedom of speech and assembly is 
basic in the land, the issue of Klan activity here 
represents a renewed menace to the progress of tranquility 
of Central Florida. 

The very history of the Klan in the South, its 
violence, its vigilantism, its use of terror and force to 
impose its malicious will upon citizens, constitutes an 
undesirable and repulsive intrusion in our state and 
community affairs. 

Those who confuse the Klan with legitimate political 
organizations overlook the long history of graft, financial 
exploitation of dupes and their violations of the laws and 
decency involving murder, mutilation and destruction. 


Current and past trials give some indication of 
depraved philosophies upon which this secret organization 
is based. Posing as defenders of Christianity and 
Democracy, they debase both. Like the infamous Nazis they 
use current fears and concerns of Communism to exploit 
their own vicious racial and political concepts to promote 
discord and violence. 

The pit one American against another based upon false 
and phony racial, religious and political differences. 

The overwhelming majority of Americans reject and 
oppose extremism either from the left or right, and racial 
bigots . 

We urge local citizens and business people to 
withstand the pressure and threat of the Ku Klux Klan and 
urge them to withhold support of this subversive group. 

There is no good in this renewed menace wearing the 
white shrouds of a better-to-be-forgotten past which in the 
name of Christianity, Democracy and white supremacy 
preaches evil and contempt of law and order. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: October 30, 1967 

12:45, 6:25 and 11:20 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest-- 


Last week 9' s BIG QUESTION polled viewers on flying 
saucers and the Ku Klux Klan. 

57% of those who phoned in said they believe flying 
saucers come from outer space. 52% of the callers aid they 
approved of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Here' s the reaction of several viewers who wrote to 
Channel 9. (PIC LETTER) 

An Orlando viewer wrote: "I don't propose here to 
state whether I do or do not believe U.F.O.'s come from 
outer space. But I do submit this thought. The so-called 
credibility gap between our Federal Administration and the 
general public is growing so wide that we, the public, 
would feel compelled to check our calendars before we would 
accept the Administration' s word for the fact that tomorrow 
is Friday." (UNQUOTE) 

There is often a great credibility gap between the 
truth and what we want to believe. It' s called the 
gullibility gap. (PIC LETTER) 

A Melbourne Beach viewer said: "We awaited with 
interest to see the votes on the KKK being a good thing. 
When you mentioned it (before the votes came in) I layed a 
bet that that' s the way it would turn out." The viewer 
said, "If I was a KKK I would make sure of the vote because 
what would be to prevent me from making 20-50 or a thousand 
phone calls myself to turn the tide?" (UNQUOTE) 

The answer, of course, is other viewers calling. The 
phones were busy all night. When a viewer completes a 
call, the lines are immediately tied up by other viewers 
who are waiting. 

The percentage may be inaccurate but, in our opinion, 
the results indicated that those who support or approve of 
the KKK are an active, dangerous force in this area and 
can' t be dismissed lightly. Citizens, business groups, 


civic groups and area and state officials must disavow any 
approval, support or sympathy for these paranoiac night- 
riders who threaten the peace and tranquility of our 

A Lake Alfred viewer said: "Does it really matter 
that over 50% of the people in Central Florida believe that 
Flying Saucers come from outer space?" The viewer said, 
"It surely is far more disturbing that over 50% of the 
people who phoned in answers to your (Big Question) approve 
of the KKK." (PIC LETTER) 

The viewer added: "I have yet to see the little green 
men with antennae so I don' t credit their existence, but I 
have seen some horrifying news releases about the 
activities of the Klan, and these people are here and now " 

That' s what Channel 9 said last week. "We' ve got 
enough down-to-earth problems without wasting time worrying 
about mythical problems." The Ku Klux Klan offers 
dangerous, un-American panaceas that are out of this world 
when it comes to meeting our real problems of the day. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: November 8, 1967 

12:45, 6:25 and 11:20 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest — 


A viewer objected to a recent Channel 9 editorial on 
the renewed menace of the Ku Klux Klan. The viewer' s 
letter said: "I am a Klan member and we are not dangerous 
as you said." (PIC LETTER) The letter said, "We shouldn' t 
be called night riders and dangerous because it isn' t 
true." (UNQUOTE) 

The Klan has been holding frequent membership drives 
and Klan rallies in the Central Florida area. Apparently 
some people have been hoodwinked by Klan leaders who have 
strong-armed their way to leadership in the secret 
underworld of bigots and trouble makers known as the Ku 
Klux Klan. 

The Klan claims to represent God-fearing Christians 
dedicated to a life of "chivalry, honor, industry, 
patriotism and love." They say they support law 
enforcement. Yet the Klan and its members, by word and 
action, are a continuing menace to the peace and 
tranquility of our communities. Klan leaders and Klansmen 
openly preach hatred--not love. The Klan record includes 
destruction of property, assault and murder. The Klan 
claim of supporting law and order is contradicted by its 
long history of terror and violence. 

Law breakers and persons charged with vicious crimes 
or of questionable personal records and backgrounds have 
been honored by the Klan as worthy members or leaders. 

Klansmen travel throughout the area causing trouble 
and disrupting meetings designed to solve problems. (PIC 
FIGHT) When they find disagreement with their own bigoted 
views, Klansmen react by shoving people around. 

Is the Klan and its membership dangerous? There' s no 
question in our mind that the Klan and Klansmen try to rule 
and attempt to take over communities by threat and fear. 
Is it any wonder that respectable peace loving citizens' 
fear the Klan and its night riding vigilantes? 


Decent, law abiding citizens must not compromise their 
principles and beliefs in love, honor and patriotism to 
support the double-talking, dangerous philosophies of these 
hooded kooks who make a mockery of religion and law and 

The Klan must not be confused with a legitimate 
political or fraternal organization. It is a secret, 
dangerous gang of hoodlums. It is a menace to Southern 
progress. The Klan is an outmoded form of vigilantism. It 
is no good and means no good. 

# # # # # 


Broadcast: November 17, 1967 

12:45, 6:25 and 11:20 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest- 


Channel 9 has disclosed recent attempts to increase Ku 
Klux Klan membership in Central Florida. 

This Sunday WFTV s VIEWPOINT 9 will present a program 
produced in South Florida on the KKK in that area. A 
portion of the program was filmed in Orlando last month 
when Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of United Klans of 
America, held a Klan rally at Kemp' s Auditorium. In 
Sunday 1 s program Mr. Shelton explains what he calls his 
"ballots not bullets" theory. He also admits that some 
members of the Klan are disenchanted and dissatisfied. 

We have a pretty good idea what Robert Shelton is 
talking about. Some Klan leaders and members in Florida 
have discounted his speeches of non-violence. Klan leaders 
and members in other parts of the nation and even here in 
Central Florida carry and use weapons and have resorted to 
violence, threats and public disturbances. 

Channel 9 news has received reports from frightened 
citizens who complain about threats from Klansmen. Our 
newsroom has also received threats of bodily harm if we 
continue to criticize the Klan. 

Yet the protection of the public against these 
marauding and dangerous Klansmen seems wholly inadequate. 
The State of Florida grants charter for incorporation to 
these disreputable groups. State and local laws are 
inadequate affecting public disturbances, the making of 
threats, carrying concealed weapons and the use of such 
weapons in a dangerous manner. 

Permits to parade and to hold public meetings are 
granted as if this group were some boy scout organization. 
Officials do not seriously consider that the Klan 
constitutes a danger to the community and a criminal 
conspiracy to violate the rights, the life and property of 
other citizens. 


Violation of laws here in Orange County are dealt with 
too leniently with small fines as if these actions were 
minor disturbances. 

In one Central Florida community a Klan leader was 
charged with disorderly conduct. Bond was set at $350. 
The same Klan leader was arrested in Orange County on 
charges of carrying a concealed weapon. His bond was set 
at $50. His companion was charged with unlawfully 
exhibiting and firing a weapon in a dangerous manner. His 
bond was set at $50. This is the amount of bond you would 
expect for a reckless driving charge. 

Certainly it is time for a review and a crackdown on 
Klan activities here. State and local laws must be 
reviewed and strengthened to meet Klan challenges and 
threats . 

Law enforcement and our courts must use the full 
extent of existing laws to punish and if possible to 
eliminate the misuse of weapons and the use of threats that 
endanger the citizens of our area. 

It is time for a full investigation of the Klan in our 
area and a clear indication by our leaders and citizens 
that we don' t want them here and that we will not tolerate 
their sick and vicious efforts to destroy the peace and 
tranquility of our communities. 

# # # # # 
(Used silent film Ku Klux Klan marching in Washington) 


Broadcast: November 24, 1967 

12:45, 6:25 and 11:20 P.M. 

This is a WFTV News Editorial in the public interest- 


We received a number of letters from viewers 
concerning last week' s editorial on the Ku Klux Klan and 
WFTV s VIEWPOINT 9 program last Sunday on the Klan. 

An Intercession City viewer called the Klan "God' s 
people." She said: "All the more slander and so much lies 
about God' s people you' re giving the enemies of God and 
country, the Communists, a rest, and they are doing 
everything to take our country." 

A Winter Haven viewer wrote: "If I had to choose I'd 
rather be a (Klan Member) than a (Communist) . That' s the 
way I see it." 

Apparently these two viewers believe Klan propaganda 
which would have us believe the Ku Klux Klan is a anti- 
Communist organization instead of race-baiting bigots whose 
members resort to threats and violence. 

An Orlando viewer claimed the Klan protected women and 
girls in the community. He said: "I don't believe in 
violence or for people to take the law in their own hands 
but at times I feel we need some help like the K.K.K. and 
they should remain with us." 

We received other letters from viewers opposed to the 
Klan. An Orlando viewer said: "This secret organization, 
ruling by fear and ignorance, is indeed a threat, not only 
to the citizens of Central Florida but to all the citizens 
in each state where it is allowed to exist." 

A Tavares viewer said: "I agree that the state should 
not allow secret hate organizations to operate in Florida. 
And to have a boy scout troop with a leader who belongs to 
such an organization is a crime against our youth. 
Children should not be taught prejudice or hate of any 
human beings by adults." 


The Sunday program on the Ku Klux Klan explained that 
one Klansman in South Florida was a boy scout leader and 
had been passing out Klan literature to the boy scouts. 

Another Tavares viewer wrote: "If I could do 
something to help get rid of this vile organization, I 
would do it. But, what can I do?" The viewer, who said 
her grandfather was a Klan member, added: "No citizen, no 
matter who he is or what his profession, will be safe till 
the Klan is eliminated permanently." (UNQUOTE) 

In our opinion the answer for the individual is to 
express your point of view whenever you can. Don' t support 
the Klan in any way. Tell law enforcement officials you 
disapprove of individuals who carry concealed weapons. 
Urge and support investigation and prosecution of any group 
or individual that threatens or uses violence. Urge your 
church, business and social organizations to oppose those 
who preach hatred and violence such as the Klan. 

In every way possible responsible citizens should let 
the Ku Klux Klan know we don' t want them here and we will 
not tolerate their continued efforts to disrupt our 
peaceful communities. 

In the ultimate support fair play, honesty and 
openness in government and civic endeavors. The greatest 
danger to our democracy is secrecy in government, politics 
and law enforcement or private vigilante groups who want to 
take the law into their own hands. 

# # # # # 


TELEVISED THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 1965/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

This is a WJXT editorial. 

After burning up considerable energy in recent weeks 
arguing that it didn' t have the power to crack down on the 
City' s lavish automobile practices, the City Council showed 
this week that it has the power, after all, by hammering 
out some overdue changes in the system. The result was two 
ordinances and a resolution which will produce a city car 
pool and some needed changes in budgetary practices. 

As far as they go, the new procedures will make 
inroads on a spoils system which has prospered at taxpayer 
expense for a great many years. And yet the biggest hole 
in the dike through which tax dollars can continue to flow 
has not yet been plugged. Neither the Commission nor the 
Council has taken any overt steps to alter a policy which 
has condoned the purchase of more than a hundred high- 
priced luxury cars and a long list of expensive accessories 
for these and other vehicles. In spite of the rules 
adopted this week, there is no overall policy which 
requires the use of compact cars and other lower-priced 
vehicles and no regulation of the purchase of costly 

Notej_ There were fewer editorials available from Norm Davis 
than for the other two editorialists. Mister Davis had 
saved approximately 100 editorials, all of which were 
examined. The period of Davis editorials studied for this 
research was also much shorter than for Brechner and 

Several of the samples of Davis' work concern the 
inefficiency he saw in local government are included here 
The remaining editorials were chosen to represent Davis' 
editorials focused on corruption in the government of the 
city of Jacksonville and the county of Duval. The 
editorials are presented in chronological order 



"extras" throughout the automobile fleet. While the new 
budgetary procedures will permit the Council to scrutinize 
purchasing more closely, it would seem desirable for the 
Council or the Commission to establish formal guidelines on 
purchasing to preclude bargaining pressures at budget time. 
The City code evidently contained provisions of this nature 
some fifteen years ago which since have been rescinded. 

Taxpayers also should have a continuing interest in 
the present City policy which provides flat automobile 
allowances — usually about $50 per month--to more than 200 
employees. The allowances are awarded whether a car 
actually is used or not, and they amount to about $135,000 
per year. 

Then there' s the unresolved matter of gasoline credit 
cards now held by 69 employees of the City. The cards 
ostensibly have been provided so drivers can obtain high 
octane gas for their high-compression engines, but a car 
pool and a reduction in the use of large cars with high- 
powered engines should obviate the need to parcel out these 
permits . 

The Council' s action this week is an encouraging sign 
that some new vitality may be developing in the city' s 
legislative body. If the Council will be as attentive to 
other phases of the automobile issue and to other serious 
problems confronting the City it can count on growing 
popular support. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED MAY 6, 1965/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

This is a WJXT editorial. 

The feeling is inescapable that the surface h as only 
been scratched on questionable practices within 
Jacksonville' s city government, and the feeling has been 
reinforced most strongly by the actions and words of a 
number of city officials. 

For the first time in years, close attention is being 
given to some amazing procedures on buying, bidding, and 
budgeting, and the process is, we hope, only beginning. 
Much of the current furor revolves around a complex game 
engaged in by the Council in shifting funds among various 
accounts— a practice which puts the Council in a position 
to wheel-and-deal. Then, of course, there' s the matter of 
city automobiles, which admittedly have been bought by 
Commissioners from friends without competitive bidding and 
in which dozens of city employees have ridden in something 
approaching splendor for years. Disclosure of the 
Recreation Department' s bidding habits opened up still 
another chapter. 

Throughout all of this, a not-unusual reaction from 
the officials involved has been to point the finger of 
blame at somebody else or to register shock that any 
criticism should arise. Many unsound procedures have been 
defended only on the grounds of their having been used for 
many years and not because of any inherent value. In some 
cases, the law has been looked on as something to be 
applied when convenient. As one Commissioner put it to the 
legislative delegation, "We feel like we have not been 
violating the intent of the law— except in a few instances 
like buying cars." Various city officials have detailed 
quite a few other projects on which competitive bidding was 
bypassed by piecemeal buying. 

One of the most startling revelations was an admission 
by the City Council' s special auditor that he had been told 
"a hundred times" he would be fired if he put criticisms in 
his audit reports. 

The legislative delegation has been incensed by this 
panorama to the point of proposing, among other things, a 
comprehensive audit of the City' s books and changes in the 
budget law to prohibit fund transfers and to require more 


competitive bidding. Some City officials seem to look on 
these as drastic measures, but they really reflect good 
business practice. 

The City' s role in all of this has been most 
revealing, for there has been no outpouring of indignation 
among City officials generally over the many recent 
disclosures. Instead, many people in high places have 
found it easy to rationalize their actions and policies. 

Legislative measures will help to improve the 
situation, but what is needed most of al are new attitudes 
among some of the occupants of City Hall toward the conduct 
of the public' s business. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 1966/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

Mayor Ritter and Commissioner Broadstreet have reacted 
to WJXT' s special report on the acquisition of a $55,000 
truck-crane combination with a flurry of denials and 
counterclaims, but the net result is that the City is 
painted deeper than ever into a corner. 

The crane was obtained by the City from a local 
company early in 1965--without competitive bidding — on a 
lease arrangement which gives the City the option to apply 
rental money to full purchase. Pinning down responsibility 
for the deal has been like trying to catch an agitated 
ping-pong ball. Commissioner Broadstreet has disclaimed 
any part in the arrangement, saying it was executed while 
Mayor Ritter was still Commissioner of highways and sewers. 
The Mayor, meanwhile, has turned up a letter signed by 
Broadstreet in January 1965 which closed the deal for the 
City with the local supplier. Yet at the time the 
negotiations took place, Ritter was the elected official in 
charge and Broadstreet was employed as City Engineer — which 
seems to plant the responsibility for policy decisions at 
the time at Mr. Ritter' s feet. 

City officials can' t even agree among themselves on 
whether the crane has, in fact, been purchased or only 
leased. The Auditor' s office in City Hall indicates the 
crane will be bought and paid for by the end of the year, 
but Commissioner Broadstreet has been quoted to the effect 
that the City does not own the crane and that the firm from 
which the City has rented the device can haul it away at 
any time. 

If this incredible statement is rue, then the City has 
been a party to a really fantastic lease. During 1965, 
payments of about $24,000 were disbursed by the City to the 
lease-holder, and the current municipal budget contains an 
additional $25,000 for payment to this particular firm 
during 1966. By the end of this year, therefore, the City 
will have paid some $49,000 for the crane, and that happens 
to be close to the full retain cost for the equipment. If 
Mr. Broadstreet' s assertion is correct that the dealer 
could retrieve the equipment now if he wants to, the City 
would be out almost $30,000 as of today. If the City of 
Jacksonville doesn' t wind up as the crane' s owner, this 
will have been the most unbelievably expensive lease we' ve 
ever heard of. 


One of the continuing mysteries is why the City 

solicited price quotations on the crane from three local 

dealers three months after the City has taken possession of 
the unit. 

Whether the crane has been purchased or leased — or 
both — the fact remains that the City failed to call for 
bids which might have saved considerable money. The 
morning newspaper today quotes Mayor Ritter as saying, 
"When you ask for bids, that means you intend to buy, not 
rent," but the Mayor should know better than that. Over in 
the court house, for instance, the Duval County Patrol 
periodically executes a lease for its entire fleet of 
patrol cars, and open, competitive bidding is utilized. 

The case of the costly crane illustrates anew the 
extent to which the City frequently goes to avoid possible 
savings of taxpayers' money. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 1966/ 6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

Much has been said of the bewildering structure of 
government within the City of Jacksonville — the bizarre 
Council-Mayor-Commission arrangement which causes political 
scientists and ordinary citizens alike to shake their heads 
in consternation. But keeping track of the seats of 
authority and responsibility in county government requires 
a scorecard which is even more baffling. 

County government, remember, was devised in the last 
century when Florida' s population lived in rural areas and 
very small towns, but today this loosely-connected cluster 
of boards, authorities, and officials is being forced to 
grapple with the enormous task of providing urban services 
for a huge metropolitan area. Because most of the county 
functions have been rigidly institutionalized by the 
Constitution or by state law, overall direction, 
leadership, and responsibility have been impossible. 

In county government alone, more than 60 offices in 
Duval are filled by election. This awesome total is bad 
enough, but combined with state and municipal races it 
produces an incredibly long ballot that conspires against 
good government. Hardly one person in ten thousand has the 
vaguest idea of the duties and qualifications of, say, the 
Clerk of the Criminal Court, which is an elective office. 
The same is true of the office of Tax Collector, a position 
which is important for its record-keeping role but which 
has little or nothing to do with the shaping of public 
policy. We might well ask why it is necessary for the 
occupants of these offices to be elected. Or take the post 
of Constable, which also has its roots in a bygone era of 
rural law enforcement. The continued existence of the 
office itself is debatable, and it surely no longer 
deserves a place on the ballot. It may be useful to amend 
the Constitution and the statutes to get government 
services like these more in tune with present-day needs. 

It goes without saying that virtually every 
officeholder in the court house will band with his 
colleagues to resist any change that might affect him — 
however ineffective the overall system may be. The Local 
Government Study Commission of Duval County has the 
difficult duty of cutting through whatever layers of self- 
interest may prevail to get at the root causes of 
confusing, costly, and ineffective local government. 


hopefully, this Commission will have recommendations for us 
by the end of this year for an improved governmental 
structure that would be understandable in function, 
responsive on election day, and efficient in providing 
service. The Study Commission consists of local people who 
are involved in a local solution to a serious problem of 
local government, and it deserves our enthusiastic support. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED MONDAY, APRIL 11, 1966/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

The time is appropriate for the community to take a 
hard look at the City' s mammoth electric power system and 
the controls under which it operates. As one of the 
largest municipally-owned power systems in the nation it 
has a $50,000,000 annual budget which is larger than all 
other City expenditures combined. The utility is very big 
business, indeed, but there are important weaknesses in its 
structure which pose dangers for the public' s interest. 

At the top of the utility' s management structure, it 
has been quite obvious that this $50,000,000 business has 
been chiefly under the direction of one man--the utilities 
Commissioner. The City charter makes the entire City 
Commission responsible for the operation of this great 
monopoly, but experience shows that this is just so much 
window-dressing and that the Commissioners adhere quite 
rigidly to the philosophy under which "you run your 
departments and I'll run mine." 

No other public agency in Duval County with 
expenditures on the order of those within the electric 
power system is left to the direction of any one man. The 
hazards of depending on a single executive to make major 
planning decisions involving millions of dollars of public 
money have come to the fore in recent months in the 
controversy over the new Northside generating plant. Other 
examples could be cited. 

Controls also are grossly inadequate at the level of 
the consumer. Let us remember that this is a monopoly and 
that special precautions are necessary to protect the 
public. Most of the electric revenues derived by the local 
utility come from outside the City, but the customers who 
provide this money are totally deprived of a voice on the 
operation of the utility or its rate schedule. Non-city 
residents cannot vote for or against the City 
Commissioners, nor have they any right of appeal to the 
state Public Service Commission, which regulates other 
public utilities. This is a thoroughly illogical state of 
affairs which subjects a majority of electric customers to 
the dictates of a minority. 

Since electric service is a countywide function, it 
should in some manner be responsive to voters throughout 
the county. And because the provision of electric service 


is a technical and highly complex operation involving 
immense sums of public money, some provision should be made 
for vesting policy decisions in a board of directors of 
some type which would have both the time and the ability to 
effectively supervise such a huge operation. We urge the 
Local Government Study Commission to give this matter a 
high priority in its examination of governmental problems 
in Duval County. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 1966/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

A probe by WJXT News into the purchase and use of 
asphalt by the Duval County Commission has produced an 
increasingly sticky situation about which four of the 
Commissioners — Harris, Morgan, Merrett, and Stockes — have 
pleaded ignorance. 

The case has several elements, including the fact that 
one company — Peninsula Asphalt--has been the sole bidder 
for the past three years. During that time the county has 
paid Peninsula 10.47 cents per gallon for asphalt which was 
supplied to Peninsula by the Shell Oil Company. Oddly 
enough, however, Shell' s posted market price for similar 
asphalt — which is an over-the-counter price f.o.b. 
Jacksonville — is 10 cents per gallon. At WJXT' s request, 
an inquiry was directed today to the offices of two major 
oil companies in Duval County on the cost of asphalt like 
that used by the county. One company quoted a price of 9.5 
cents per gallon. Not long ago a neighboring county — 
Volusia — obtained a bid of 9 cents per gallon f.o.b. 

The substance of all this is that Duval County' s 
bidding procedures have produced a price which is higher 
than the going rate to private business and at least one 
other county. It is impossible to calculate the tax money 
that has been wasted on asphalt in recent years, but with 
purchases of more than four million gallons involved the 
loss must run high into the thousands of dollars. 

There are serious questions about Duval' s bid 
solicitations. One major oil company says it has been 
frozen out of the bidding on at least part of Duval' s 
asphalt needs by the language of the specifications. 

Another mystery surrounds the paving of access roads 
to two private firms by county crews using county asphalt. 
Court House records do not show that the county submitted 
bills for the work, but both firms were billed by Peninsula 
Asphalt and one of these companies actually remitted 
payment to Peninsula. This is a weird set of circumstances 
which the Commissioners have failed to explain. 

The Commissioners have indicated they plan to re- 
advertise for bids on asphalt, and this is a constructive 
move. But the taxpayers are entitled to much better 


explanations for the year-in, year-out waste of money which 
has taken place. A plea of ignorance does not suffice, for 
the responsibility belongs to the Commission. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


TELEVISED AUGUST 15, 1966/6:00 P.M. AND 11:00 P.M. 

If the amount of money wasted by the City of 
Jacksonville over the years on automobiles, insurance, 
electric utility poles, kerosene, and sundry other items 
could somehow be totaled, the figure would be astounding. 
The fat contained in any City budget in the last few years 
surely amounted to at least half a million dollars, and 
conceivably much more. City tax bills have been inflated, 
as a result, by two, three, or more mills than necessary. 
This is waste on a majestic scale — what the recent Grand 
Jury report calls "municipal spending at its worst." 

This bounty from the taxpayers has found its way into 
the pockets of favored local businesses, and whether any of 
these profits ever found their way back to City Hall as 
campaign contributions or otherwise is something the 
individual citizen will have to decide for himself. City 
officials have been decidedly unenthusiastic about 
proposals to adopt tighter campaign contribution rules, and 
they have almost to a man been unwilling to list the names 
of donors in past political campaigns. 

The City Commission' s responsibility for the 
inexcusable conditions described in many WJXT Special 
Reports and now confirmed by the Grand Jury is obvious. 
This is the body which prepares the budgets and actually 
spends the money. The only Commissioner who can argue his 
innocence at this point is George Moseley, who assumed the 
post of utilities commissioner a few short months ago. For 
the record it should be noted that Governor Haydon Burns 
was Mayor-Commissioner during most of the period covered by 
the Grand Jury inquiry. 

But accountability for the City' s spending spree also 
belongs to the nine members of the City Council, whose 
annual duty it is to approve the budget submitted by the 
Commission. The Council' s most ambitious effort in recent 
years toward curbing needless spending was a meaningless 
resolution calling on all City departments to practice 
economy. The Council repeatedly hides behind alleged 
limits in the charter on what it can do, and never really 
has exercised the powers it has. The Council could have 
trimmed the total amount in various insurance or automobile 
accounts, for example, but it did not. Not once did the 
Council require Commissioners to justify publicly the money 
they were asking for cars, insurance, or a hundred other 


costly items. Not once did the Council raise a public 
ruckus over the poor purchasing policies used by the 
Commissioners. When the Legislature was in session last 
year, neither the Council nor the Commission sponsored a 
move to tighten the competitive bidding law. 

At least some reforms in the City' s purchasing habits 
are on the way, but whatever penalty is to be doled out for 
the disgraceful record of recent years appears to be 
strictly in the hands of the very people who have been 
taken to the cleaners: the voters. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 



The word "waste" is such a prominent part of the very 
fabric of City government that recent disclosures about 
Jacksonville' s travel expense policies were in no way 
surprising. Circuit Court Judge Marion Gooding included in 
his list of charges to the Grand Jury last May what he 
termed "the waste of public funds by certain officials of 
the City of Jacksonville by granting of 'overly free' 
travel expenses." His observation that some travel 
resembles paid vacations instead of business trips was an 
understatement . 

There are few limits on what can be spent by City 
employees and officials on travel, and only meager 
accounting for what is spent. For meals and lodging there 
is no ceiling at all, and such feasts as a $58 dinner for 
two employees are not uncommon. While transportation 
expense is limited to 10 cents per mile if a private car is 
used, it becomes in many cases more tantalizing to go by 
air or rail where first class passage is permitted. City 
Hall gossip long has extolled the delights of "champagne 
flights" hither and yon across the country. 

But the icing on this very rich cake is what the City 
calls a "per diem" payment, which is doled out to travelers 
in addition to cash for transportation, meals, and lodging. 
This "per diem" can amount to $12.50 per day, and its 
purpose, according to the City Auditor, is to provide 
pocket money for "tips, laundry, movies, and things." The 
state makes no such miscellaneous payment, nor does the 
federal government. As a WJXT Special Report noted this 
week, the lowest ranking Jacksonville employee can travel 
in a style not afforded even to the Governor of the state. 

Most of the Cit/ s travel policy is rooted in the 
language of the City charter itself. But the law can be 
changed, and the fact that not a single member of the City 
Commission or the City Council has made an issue of the law 
indicates that the city family has been quite satisfied to 
bill the taxpayers for luxurious meals, lavish lodgings, 
and first-class travel. 

Even in the best of times, the City' s ultra-liberal 
travel program could not be justified. But today, when 
taxes within the City are imposing a hardship on many 
people, and when the City is hard-pressed for funds for 


legitimate needs like a new police building and road 
maintenance, the outlays for travel are particularly 
inexcusable . 

While the legislative delegation should amend the 
charter in 1967 to make travel reimbursement more 
realistic, the City itself can and should move on a number 
of fronts in the meantime to curb such extravagance. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


AND 11:00 P.M. 

Among a number of things for which the City Commission 
has been noted in recent years is a distinct unwillingness 
to criticize or to penalize its members for violations of 
the City charter. The members of this closely knit club 
have tended to hid behind interpretations of the City 
Attorney when convenient, or to ignore the charter 
altogether. On one recent issue, for example, the Mayor 
unilaterally declared a provision of the charter 
unconstitutional, and that was that. On numerous 
occasions, provisions of the charter relating to purchasing 
have been violated, but the Commission has failed to have 
penalties in the charter invoked. 

Against this backdrop, the question arises whether 
Commissioner Claude Smith has violated the conflict of 
interest section of the charter because of his affiliation 
with Southeastern Decorators, Inc., a firm which has been 
paid more than $12,000 by the City over the past two years. 
In addition to his post on the Commission, Mr. Smith also 
serves the decorating company as legal counsel, and 
presumably is on its payroll. 

It may or may not be a coincidence that Southeastern — 
since its incorporation two years ago — has received far 
more business from the City than any other decorating 
company, but there is little doubt that Southeastern has 
been favored by the City over other firms in being granted 
storage privileges in City facilities. It is relevant that 
Commissioner Smith has direct jurisdiction over the 
Auditorium and the Coliseum, where much of the decorating 
and exhibiting service has been rendered. 

The charter forbids a City official from having any 
direct or indirect financial interest in any contract or 
job performed for the City. It provides that contracts or 
agreements in such cases shall be null and void, and under 
certain conditions defines the conflict as a misdemeanor 
punishable by a fine or jail term. The nub of the matter 
is whether the Commissioner has a direct or indirect 
financial interest in Southeastern. Although the 
Commissioner and the City Attorney argue that the charter 
provision does not apply, it is logical to presume that any 
fees paid to Commissioner Smith by Southeastern have come 
from revenues which consist in part of public funds paid by 


the City of Jacksonville. If this does not constitute an 
"indirect interest" then the word "indirect" is 

If the Commission' s behavior is true to form, this 
question will be ignored as others have in the past. It 
would appear that a final resolution depends on whether 
some citizen cares to take the issue to court. 

Irrespective of the charter, it is not in the public 
interest for a member of the City Commission to be in the 
employ of a firm receiving City funds — particularly when 
those funds are not derived through competitive bidding. 
Mr. Smith' s minimal responsibility to the public, it seems 
to us, is to sever his connection with one payroll or the 

This was a WJXT editorial. 


AND 11:00 P.M. 

With seeming indifference to the intense hurricane of 
citizen unrest which swirls around City Hall, the City 
Commission and City Council continue to be blind to the 
grave moral dilemma posed by the continued participation in 
the affairs of the City of officials charged with serious 
crimes . 

Four of the nine members of the City Council — Mattox, 
Lowe, Cannon, and Sharp — have been indicted by the Grand 
Jury. Three of them have resigned their committee posts 
but otherwise have refused to suspend themselves from 
Council activity. Council President Lem Sharp, who still 
serves on the important budget committee, not only was 
indicted but refused to waive his immunity before the Grand 
Jury when asked to testify on matters relating to his 
official duties. 

While all of these officers are entitled to a 
presumption of innocence of criminal activity until proven 
otherwise, the public is entitled to protection from the 
possibility of further exploitation in the event the 
charges are sustained in court. It is wrong that these 
four men should be casting votes on vital matters such as 
tax assessments, zoning, and budgets. In adamantly 
refusing to sideline themselves until the charges against 
them can be resolved, they are guilty of perverting the 
public trust to which they swore allegiance when they 
assumed office. 

This moral breach deserves to be repudiated publicly, 
but except for Councilman Lavern Reynolds the City' s 
leadership has publicly shut its eyes to the whole affair. 
The other members of the Council have balked at censuring 
their colleagues and urging their voluntary suspension. 
Councilman Burroughs, for example, pleads that "public 
embarrassment" of the indicted officials would result if he 
took part in a censure move, but the fact that the very 
integrity of City Government is at stake in the present 
situation overrides such a sentimental consideration. The 
acute embarrassment now shared by the entire community is 
infinitely grater. 

Presumably on the basis that it, too, has no legal 
means to effect the suspension of the Councilmen, the City 


Commission has failed to denounce in public the behavior of 
the reluctant Council members. But this is a moral 
question of great importance which transcends 
organizational lines and which calls out for public 
protest . 

In its most recent report, the Grand Jury scored the 
"moral climate in this community which has tolerated most 
of the conditions which have been exposed." The results of 
last Tuesday' s election and the continuing recall movement 
should be vivid evidence that the public has had its fill 
of equivocation and compromise with sound moral principles. 

We again challenge the Council and the Commission to 
let themselves be heard loud and clear on this issue. 

This was a WJXT editorial. 



The story of human history can be told in terms to 
conquer the forces of evil and degradation--the endless 
fight against such plagues of the human spirit as poverty, 
ignorance, slavery and hate. 

Maybe someday, men will conquer these things and 
create a united world based on justice and human dignity. 
But in the meantime, human nature must go through a long 
period of development. We have to contend with all these 
things — including hate. 

On Christmas Eve — two youths painted a swastika on the 
wall of a Jewish Synagogue in West Germany. An unimportant 
event in itself — it has given birth to a wave of anti- 
semitic incidents which has swept around the free world. 

Last night, that wave of hate found its way to 
Florida. Swastika symbols, sign of the infamous Nazi 
movements of the war years, were found in Jacksonville, 
Tampa and Miami. 

Note: Hundreds of editorials the editorials of Ralph Renick 
were examined for this project. All of the editorials 
written by Renick in the 1960s, as well as editorials from 
the late 1950s and the early 1970s were read. 

Appendix C contains a sampling of the editorials by 
Ralph Renick on racial problems. There is an editorial in 
which Renick warned that "swastika crackpots" should be 
discouraged. There are several editorials warning of the 
danger of racial turmoil in Miami. There are editorials on 
racial problems in other cities. Finally, there is a 
tribute to H.V. Kaltenborn, who was Renick' s mentor. The 
editorials are presented in chronological order. 



Who committed these outrages is not known. 

Most likely their identities will never be known, for 
people of this stripe are sneaks and cowards--they do their 
filthy deeds fitfully and under the protective cloak of 
darkness . 

Governor Collins today reflected the sentiments of the 
people of this state when he called the incidents 
"despicable." But even this description does not do 
justice to the kind of demented hatred and twisted sickness 
which would desecrate houses of worship and smear the most 
contemptible hatred imaginable with a paintbrush. Law 
enforcement agencies should show no quarter in flushing out 
and bringing to justice those responsible. In these cases, 
it is the whole of society which is threatened and 
disgraced — not just one race or religion. 

But there is something else to keep in mind. Most of 
these paint-wielding crackpots desire only one thing — 

And while it is incumbent upon the newspapers and 
radio and television stations to keep the community 
informed of what is going on ... it is also the duty of 
the media to see that these incidents are not overplayed-- 
which merely further encourages an outbreak of further such 

In November 1958, this community was plagued by bomb 
scares. At that time, it was stated in this editorial, 
quote, "In an effort to quell such outbreaks, WTVJ News 
will endeavor to report such incidents only when these 
occurrences result in such extreme action that they 
legitimately become newsworthy. We will not overplay these 
crackpot actions to give aid and comfort to the cowards 
responsible." Unquote. 

The same thing applies today. We will not unduly 
become a party to these disgusting acts by giving these 
criminals what they want — public recognition. 


TUESDAY — AUGUST 30, 1960 

What has happened in Jacksonville the past few days 
demonstrates what can occur when the "hoodlum" element is 
allowed to run rampant. 

In this case, Whites and Negroes have tangled in a 
violent display of mob warfare. 

From reports we receive, the undesirable tough guys 
from each race moved themselves into combat. 

Mob warfare of this kind is a matter for the police 
who are charged with maintaining law and order. Thus, the 
Jacksonville incidents are a reflection on the ability of 
the police to prevent and break up such things. 

Further than that, the Jacksonville case is an 
outgrowth of a vacuum which has been created in that city. 
Sit-in demonstrations had been staged—tension arose--with 
the threat of violence. The possibility of disorder was 
present depending on how well the leadership of the 
community responded to the problem. In many southern 
cities, including Miami, the threat of violence was 
diminished when leaders made up their minds to face the 
problem realistically and in good faith. 

Bi-racial committees have helped. 

But in other cities, resistance was hardened by the 
sit-in demonstrations and moderate leadership was nowhere 
to be found. The vacuum thus created was filled by the 

Mayor Burns of Jacksonville, despite the pleas of 
business interests and the City' s Ministerial Alliance, 
persistently refuses to form a Bi-racial Committee. He 
says such committees, "invariably result in decisions to 

The Mayor, in a way, is abdicating decision-making to 
angry mobs . 

Unless the political and community leaders of any City 
open the way for communication between responsible members 
of both races, the problem will continue to simmer like a 


volcano, ready to erupt in violence with little 



If there is one great lesson to be learned from the 
civil tragedy now being played out in the streets of New 
Orleans and the Legislative halls of Baton Rouge, it is the 
value of moral leadership and what happens to a community 
when that leadership breaks down. 

In a pitiful effort to stay the hand of the 
inevitable, the lawmakers and officials of Louisiana — with 
a few courageous exceptions — have led the people down the 
dead end path of school closing and mob rule. 

Governor Jimmie Davis had tried to construct a wall 
between his state and the Federal Government based on 3 9 
laws cemented together with the specious principle of 
"interposition." This wall came tumbling down with a crash 
yesterday with the Federal Court ruling said, "The 
conclusion is clear that interposition is not a 
Constitutional doctrine. 

It' s admittedly easy to criticize another State from a 
somewhat distant vantage point in Miami, but we feel 
particularly bad about the bitter seeds sown by demagogues 
in and out of the Louisiana Legislature which have spawned 
a bumper-crop of hate and violence. The following action, 
this week, by a group of mothers outside a New Orleans 
school points this up: 


WHITE MOTHERS "We don' t want no niggers in our 

& LITTLE neighborhood. Why don' t you move in a 

CHILDREN — colored quarter? They got places for 



"Why should our children have to suffer 
for one little nigger? Now, you answer 
that. you answer that. One little 
nigger and 400 children' s got to 
SAY, "Tell the man we don' t want to 
integrate . . . tell him we don' t want 
no niggers. . . ." (BOY SAYS NO). 


It is generally accepted that mothers the world over- 
even in Louisiana — hold a responsibility to teach their 
young the ways of morality, justice and respect for law. 

We feel the howling matriarchs of White supremacy in 
New Orleans hardly rate for any "Mother of the Year" 

They have not only shamed themselves before a world 
audience but there is no telling what scars they have left 
on the minds of their own children. such are the tragic 
results when the law is flounted and morality is abandoned 
to emotion. 



Tonight at 10:30 — Channel Four will air a report on 
one of the most challenging problems faced by this 
community--" The Scandal of Our Slums." 

Through years of political vacillation, weakness and 
corruption, the Central Negro District has evolved into a 
city of shacks and concrete tenements with a population of 
40 thousand living in the mire of neglect which reflects 
upon every citizen of this area: 







This special FYI report will take you 
across the tracks and depict the life 
and sounds of the 284 acres crammed 
with young and old. You' 11 see the 
plight of the youngsters — the 
deplorable sanitation--and the hopes of 
the future. Newsman Ira Eisenberg 
talked to one teenager: 

(EISENBERG) What kind of problems do 
teenagers in this area have? What 
activities do you have? 

(GIRL) Well, that seems to be our only 
problem. We don' t have any activities 
for them — after school activities, that 
is. When we come home and get cleaned 
up, we don' t have any place to go 
unless you go downtown to the library. 
And then they complain about teenagers 
in the nightclubs and that' s the only 
kind of activities we have — the night 
clubs . 


Miami must make a massive assault on the problem armed 
with weapons adequate to the task. 

Any area of any city would look and smell like a slum 
if zoning abuses were allowed--laws not enforced— garbage 
and trash allowed to accumulate— public recreational 
facilities neglected and the area left to drift by itself. 


So, it is not easy to write off the problem by saying, 
"It's only colored town." 

Next week the City of Miami begins public hearings on 
a new zoning law — the first based on sound planning and 
recognition of future needs. 

The Apartment Owners Association is strongly opposed 
to the new plan which would help future construction in the 
Negro district. To us, this testifies to the potential 
effectiveness of the needed changes. 

January 30 th , the City Commission will consider 
adoption of a Minimum Housing Code setting standards for 
occupancy of any unit. 

The revised zoning law and minimum housing statute are 
both steps in the right direction. 

This community, to be progressive, cannot tolerate the 
slums . 

A further report on this station tonight at 10:30. 


No. 1402 

Tuesday, February 25/64 


Nine months ago the Metro Commission named 18 persons 
to its newly created Community Relations Board. The Board 
was to work in the field of maintaining good human 
relations between all human segments of the county — all 
races, creeds and colors. 

The Board has made a good start at defining the 
problems and in meeting certain emergency situation. 

But we were interested in the farewell remarks to the 
Board by its interim Executive Director Seymour Samet who, 
on February 15 th , returned to his full-time post as Florida 
Director of the American Jewish Committee. Mr. Samet 
outlined some of his concerns: 

He said that: "Miami, long noted for its superficial 

attendance to the major problems of our times, has muddled 

through on economic planning, urban growth and social 

He pointed up some danger signs of possible upcoming 
trouble . 

Plans are being considered for sit-in demonstrations 
at one of Dade's major industries. Block-busting realtors 
are already at work selling homes to Negroes in previously 
ail-White neighborhoods. Home builders and civic 
associations are planning resistance tactics. 

Only a small percentage of this community' s Negro 
children attend integrated schools--this may lead to 
greater pressures from the Negro community to accelerate 
the pace of integration. 

Negro groups are also getting restless to the 
"tokenism" exhibited in employment opportunity and public 
accommodation in hotels and restaurants. 

Mr. Samet mentions one other potential trouble area: 


He says despite the contributions made by Cuban 
refugees, antagonism toward them continues — they are 
becoming the scapegoats of our many ills. 

Mr. Samet' s farewell address to the Community 
Relations Board was a frank, honest and fearless evaluation 
of what might happen here--that we are enmeshed in a 
revolution — not an evolution. 

The Board has a difficult task ahead, but the job can 
be made easier by the understanding and support of the 
community at large. 


No. 1420 

Tuesday, March 24/64 


Florida' s progress in the field of race relations is 
being given a "black eye" by developments in the past 24 
hours in the state' s second largest city — Jacksonville. 
Once before, in 1960 Jacksonville was the scene of flare- 
ups over racial picketing and sit-ins. Organized bands of 
young Negroes roamed the streets four years ago, striking 
at one place, disappearing and striking blocks away. 

The demonstrations ended with the appointment of a bi- 
racial committee which managed to bring about some 
improvements for the city' s Negroes — integration of many 
public buildings such as the City Auditorium, Sports 
Coliseum and 'Gator Bowl. But the city swimming pools were 
closed and a city park turned to other uses rather than 
submit to integration. 

Jacksonville and its elected officials have been 
anything but enthusiastic over recognizing the need for any 
improvement in the field of race relations. 

Finally, the bi-racial committee, frustrated in its 
efforts to achieve meaningful communication between city 
officials and the Negro community disbanded a month ago. 

Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan has remained active — 
holding weekly meetings; the home of a Negro child 
attending an all-white school was dynamited. 

The Negroes of Jacksonville decided to conduct these 
latest demonstrations after the Mayor of that City Haydon 
Burns announced on a Sunday TV show that he was deputizing 
496 firemen as special police to hold the Negroes in check. 

This raised to nearly 1,000 the number of officers 
available to hold the line. 

Florida has made some progress in race relations. But 
in Miami lines of communication have remained open between 
Negro and White leadership. Miami has had no violence — 
Miami is moving peacefully ahead at the moment--the Negro' s 
main complaint is the slowness of the pace. 


But in Jacksonville, the Negro has been told, in 
effect, "Stay in your place." And a thousand police and 
firemen are there to make sure they do. But, as the past 
24 hours have shown, it won' t work. Unfortunately, 
Jacksonville city officials refuse to recognize that the 
entire state of Florida must suffer as a result. 


No. 1473 

Friday, June 29/64 


The oldest city in America has one of the oldest 
problems in America — racial turmoil. 

But not only St. Augustine is in the glare of national 
attention. What happens in St. Augustine is reflective on 
the entire State of Florida. 

We know of many people who have cancelled plans to 
visit the New York World' s Fair after learning of muggings 
on the streets and subways and violence in the New York 
area. Thus, the overall image of New York has affected 
people's travel plans. 

St. Augustine is similarly interpreted by Americans as 
somehow indicative of what is going on in Florida. Miami 
and other sections have had an enlightened attitude toward 
improving race relations. Despite this, however, these 
cities may very well suffer because of the troubles in one 
city 300 miles up the coast. 

The unfortunate part of St. Augustine's problem is the 
reluctance to reach any sort of compromise. Martin Luther 
King and his demonstrators have adamantly continued their 
publicity-inspired efforts to put the spotlight on St. 
Augustine. King's success has been due to the unbending 
attitude of the city 7 s leadership to communicate with the 
Negro community. 

A crack in the dike appeared earlier in the week when 
the Grand Jury of St. John' s County recommended a 30-day 
cooling off period, after which a bi-racial committee would 
be set up. King today came back with a counter-peace 
proposal to call off demonstrations for one week if the 
Grand Jury, which went into recess yesterday, would 
reconvene and put to work immediately a bi-racial 

The Jury foreman responded by saying the Jury would 
not be intimidated nor would it negotiate nor would it 
change its mind. 


Responsibility would appear to be the key word in the 

The lack of leadership in the past has provoked the 
present crisis which can only be solved by an awakened 
leadership which recognizes the rights of all— black and 


No. 1536 

Monday, November 9/64 


Jacksonville tonight stands on the brink of a major 
crisis in its schools. 

A powerful Florida committee of the Southern 
Association of Colleges and Schools will recommend at the 
Association' s November 30 th Louisville convention that the 
15 public high schools in Duval County be discredited. 

This should chill the heart of every citizen of Duval 
and Jacksonville — whether he be a parent or not. 

The Florida Committee wants the Duval high schools 
dropped from the accreditation list because of "inadequate 
administrative facilities and poor financial support." 

This is a drastic measure. The Southern Association 
follows its branch committee' s recommendations 99 per cent 
of the time. 

Dropping the Jacksonville high schools from the 
accredited list makes them practically useless—graduates 
are not recognized anywhere in the country--the diplomas 
are not accepted by colleges and universities. 

WFGA-TV, WOMETCO' s sister station in Jacksonville, 
reports tonight that the U.S. Navy has hinted it may pull 
its facilities out of the community if the schools are 
rendered useless with the loss of accreditation. 

The Jacksonville School System had been warned a year 
ago that it faced such a loss unless improvements were 
made . 

The community apparently sat on its hands and did 

It' s ironic that all of this comes about on the first 
day of American Education Week. 

We in Dade County, with the nation' s seventh largest 
school system, should take a moment to reflect on what we 
have and its importance. 


With a budget of 126-million dollars a year, the 
school system is the single biggest user of tax money. 
Over 200,000 students are enrolled from kindergarten to 
junior college. But a good school system just doesn' t 
happen. It takes public interest, hard work and planning. 
And the people of the community are the ones that make it 
work or not. 

The thoughts of a child coming out with a diploma that 
is not accepted in most colleges is a thought too 
distressing to dismiss. 

Our school system is only as good as we want it to be. 


No. 1668 

Tuesday, June 15/65 


There was a time in this country--as a matter of 
fact — around the entire world, when the voice was all 

Before the days of television, roughly from 1920 to 
1950, radio was supreme master of the airwaves and a 
hundred different voices range out--some good — some bad. 
These were the days of strong opinions, of vocal vibrancy, 
of personalities that spoke their minds and didn' t care 
whether people agreed with them or not. 

It was a stimulating era of thought development. Some 
think it was broadcasting's finest hour. 

One of the men largely responsible for pioneering free 
expression on radio was H. V. Kaltenborn. 

The Dean of Commentators died yesterday at the age of 
86. He had just returned to his New York home Saturday 
from his Palm Beach winter residence. 

Mr. Kaltenborn' s death leaves a void in the ranks of 
those few men in broadcast opinionating who have achieved 
an emeritus ranking. 

Ed Murrow as another. He, too, has left us. 

If I may be permitted a personal note — it was Mr. 
Kaltenborn who was directly responsible for my entrance 
into the broadcast news profession. The year was 1949. 
Mr. Kaltenborn established a Foundation to enable 
graduating college students to undertake a research 
investigation in the communications field. The Kaltenborn 
Foundation awarded me its first Fellowship and I came from 
the University of Miami to WTVJ — Florida' s first TV 
station — to pursue my investigation of TV news. 

In the years since, Mr. Kaltenborn has been a steady 
supporter, as well as a constructive critic, of my efforts 
in broadcasting. 


He was an inspiration to all of us latter day toilers 
in the vineyard he planted back in 1924. To his very end, 
H. M. Kaltenborn, even at the age of 86, kept a keen 
interest in all tings. His deep interest in professional 
quality in radio and TV news never diminished. 

His final broadcast words were recorded just three 
weeks ago. On May 26 th , he visited the campus of Florida 
Atlantic University at Boca Raton. His interview comments 
were video-tape recorded. Here is a portion of the final 
public words of H. V. Kaltenborn talking about toda/ s 
radio-TV news : 




"There's too much commercialism. We 
need to utilize everything associated 
with radio a more constructive way; in 
a way that makes for education; that 
makes for learning; that makes for 
knowledge rather than in a way that 
makes for commercialism. We have let 
ourselves go on commercialism to too 
large an extent." 

H.V. Kaltenborn' s integrity and search for knowledge 
and the truth leaves a heritage for all of us to carry on. 

We will miss him. 


No. 1686 

Monday, July 12/65 


We in Dade County like to boast that we have had no 
serious racial disturbances. What we perhaps forget is 
that this has come about not through any miracle, but 
through sound, reasoned work by a great many people. 

This is demonstrated at the moment by the intelligent 
and forward thinking of the Community Relations Board which 
has offered a solution to the Richmond Heights school 
construction hassle. 

The situation brings into focus the term: De facto 

This simply means that segregation is in existence 
because of the residential patterns of certain areas. If a 
given area is nearly all Negro, you end up — although 
unintentionally — with a segregated school. While one can 
maintain that this is nothing more than reflecting existing 
residential patterns, the larger point is that through the 
schools isolated segregation can be brought to an end in 
the years ahead. 

Observe any first grader in today 7 s world. He neither 
cares nor is overtly aware that his seatmate is black or 

If this attitude is adopted in the first grade, his 
generation is well on the way to avoiding all the racial 
misery the nation is going through. 

In the Richmond Heights controversy, the Negroes do 
not want just another new school that will continue the 
pattern they seek to break out of. 

The Community Relations Board has proposed that two 
moderate-sized schools be built to serve both Richmond 
Heights and Colonial Heights. 

In these two areas, there are 1,058 school children-- 
700 Negro and 358 White. 


By building two smaller schools; one in a 
predominantly White area and one in a predominantly Negro 
area, access will be afforded children of both races to 
intermingle . 

And the CRB also recommends that any parent not 
wanting his children to attend either school will have the 
option of transporting them to other schools. 

Dade is faced with a true test of maturity and 

We have a good record of racial harmony but this only 
counts if we keep our record intact when the problems get 


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determine which of five groups would be awarded the 
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Conference Papers 

Bender, James R., and Berens, Charlyne. 1998. Public 

journalism' s incubator: Identifying preconditions for 
support. Presented at Public journalism: A critical 
forum, at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 
October 1998. 

Bowers, James R., Caflin, Blair, and Walker, Gary. 1998. The 
impact of civic journalism on voting behavior in state- 
wide referendums: A case study from Rochester, New 
York. Presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the New 
England political science association. Available at 
the web site of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, 
Http : / /www . oewcenter . ora/doinaci . research /r_does . html 

Englehardt, James. 1998. Public journalism, objectivity and 
public life. Presented at Public journalism: A critical 
forum, at the University of South Carolina, 11-13 
October 1998. 

Glover, Joe. 1998. Joe Brechner' s strategy for Orlando, 

Florida: The 1960s civil rights editorials of WFTV-TV. 
Presented at 1998 American Journalism Historians 
Association Annual Conference, Louisville, KY, 
22 October 1998. 

Haas, Tanni. 1998. Towards a democratically viable 
conception of publicness: The case of public 
journalism. Presented at Public Journalism: A Critical 
Forum, conference at the University of South Carolina, 
11-13 October 1998. 


Maier, Scott, and Potter, Deborah. 1998. Public journalism 
through the television lens: How did the broadcast 
media perform in campaign '96'? Presented at Public 
Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference at the 
University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 

Novek, Eleanor M. 1998. In the public interest? — NOT! 

Young people assess the social responsibility of the 
press in civic journalism. Presented at Public 
Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference at the 
University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 

Perry, David K. 1998. Civic Journalism, nominalism and 

realism. Presented at Public Journalism: A Critical 
Forum, conference at the University of South Carolina, 
11-13 October 1998. 

Richter, Denise Barkis. 1998. Local television news and 

viewer empowerment: TV journalism's role in empowering 
an informed and active public. Presented at Public 
Journalism: A Critical Forum, conference at the 
University of South Carolina, 11-13 October 1998. 


Brechner, Joe, to Paul Dobin of Cohn and Marks, Washington, 
DC, 3 January 1974. 

Chiles, Lawton M., Jr., State Representative, to Bill Grove, 
26 September 1966. 

Gaillard, John to WJXT, 1 July 1960. 

Haines, Daniel Hamilton (Brechner' s writing professor at 
Wayne State University) , to Joe Brechner, 27 January 

Dissertations and Theses 

Ashdown, Paul. 1975. Television and the editorial crusade: A 
case study of WTVJ-TV, 1965-1973. Ph.D. diss., Bowling 
Green State University. 


Burney, Ruben, II. 1991. Newspaper coverage of the early 
I960' s Civil Rights Movement: A content analysis of 
world views. Master' s thesis, Michigan State 

Compton, James Robert. 1966. Communicative politics and 
public journalism. Master' s thesis, Simon Fraser 

Cusack, Mary Ann. 1960. Editorializing in broadcasting. 
Ph.D. diss., Wayne State University. 

Flannery, Gerald Vincent. 1966. Local television 

editorializing: A case study of the editorials of Ralph 
Renick on WTVJ-TV. Ph.D. diss., Ohio University. 

Kraeplin, Camille Renee. 1998. The role of the editorial 

page in newspaper-based public journalism. Ph.D. diss., 
University of Texas at Austin. 

Payne, Rebecca A. 1998. Connecting in Columbia, South 

Carolina: A case study in public journalism. Ph.D. 
diss., University of South Carolina. 

Turner, Delaney Lyle. 1998. From Classes to Masses: A 
Comparative Study of the Penny Press and Public 
Journalism. Master' s Thesis, University of Western 


Brechner, Joe. The failure of the rabble rousers. WLOF-TV 
editorial. 7 September 1961. 

. Letters to the editorials. WLOF-TV editorial. 13 

September 1961. 

. How dangerous are crackpots? WFTV-TV editorial. 11 

May 1962. 

. Race relations improve. WFTV-TV editorial. 6 June 

. The shame of Jackson. WFTV-TV editorial. 1 July 



_. A Klan warning. WFTV-TV editorial. 15 July 1963. 

. Progress in race relations. WFTV-TV editorial. 30 
July 1963. 

. Does desegregation hurt business. WFTV-TV 

editorial. 9 August 1963. 

. The Birmingham tragedy. WFTV-TV editorial. 16 

September 1963. 

. Partial civil rights. WFTV-TV editorial. 11 

October 1963. 

. Rabble in Marion. WFTV-TV editorial. 24 October 


. DuPont Foundation award. WFTV editorial. 22 March 


. Klan investigation. WFTV-TV editorial. 2 April 

. Society of bigots. WFTV-TV editorial. 11 May 1965. 

. Freedom's enemies at home. WFTV-TV editorial. 14 

October 1965. 

. Justice and changing attitudes. WFTV-TV editorial. 

8 December 1965. 

. How to prevent racial unrest. WFTV-TV editorial. 

25 July 1966. 

Violence and civil rights. WFTV-TV editorial. 2 6 

July 1967. 

Who represents the minority? WFTV-TV editorial. 2£ 

July 1967. 

Outstanding football game. WFTV-TV editorial. 18 

September 1967. 

. Renewed menace. WFTV-TV editorial. 17 October 


4 7 4 

. Clear and present danger. WFTV-TV editorial. 17 

November 1967. 

. A sense of outrage. WFTV-TV editorial. 8 April 


_. Equal justice and protection. WFTV-TV editorial. 

25 April 1968. 
Davis, Norm, WJXT Editorial, 10 September 1962. 

. WJXT Editorial, 15 November 1962. 

. WJXT Editorial, 19 June 1963. 

. WJXT Editorial, 27 September 1963. 

. WJXT Editorial, 3 October 1963. 

. WJXT Editorial, 4 March 1964. 

. WJXT Editorial, 28 May 1964. 

. WJXT Editorial, 18 March 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial, 9 April 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial, 16 April 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial, 22 April 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial, 29 April 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial, 6 May 1965. 

. WJXT Editorial 11 March 1966. 

. WJXT Editorial, 25 March 1966. 

. WJXT Editorial, 11 April 1966. 

. WJXT Editorial, 18 May 1966. 

. WJXT Editorial, 15 August 1966. 


Renick, Ralph. No encouragement for swastika crackpots. 7 
January 1960. 

. Striptease ordinance stripped. 20 January 1960. 
. Honky tonk crackdown continues. 29 January 1960. 

B-Girl joints like 'charge-it' business. 5 

February 1960. 

Police Chief Headley comments on honky-tonk 

cleanup campaign. 9 February 1960. 

. The heat' s really on for strip-joint owners. 11 

March 1960. 
. Honky tonk crackdown continues. 22 July 1960. 

Bi-racial committees can help prevent mob warfare. 

30 August 1960. 

. Louisiana, not another Little Rock, 14 November 


_. Tragedy in the streets of New Orleans. 1 December 


. The television editorial. 21 June 1963. 

. Racial danger signs appear in Miami. 25 February 


. Jacksonville race riots give Florida black-eye. 24 

March 1964. 

. A lesson to be learned from Jacksonville. 25 March 

. Racial harmony Is everyone's business. 7 May 1964. 

. Voting in Florida should not be a black and white 

issue. 29 May 1964. 

. Florida' s Oldest City Bucking Oldest Problem. 19 

June 1964. 


. St. Augustine casting shadow on entire state. 29 

June 1964. 

. Broadcasting loses a pioneer. 15 June 1965 

. Civil rights Is everybody's job. 2 July 1964. 

. Capital punishment in Florida. 2 February 1965. 

. The message finally gets through. 9 May 1973. 

. A hard look at Miami riot control. 12 August 1968. 

. A time for facts, not rumors. 28 July 1967. 

. Act now or surrender. 13 September 1966. 

. An unfortunate misunderstanding. 8 June 1973. 

. Beyond the Kitchen Door. 6 April 1973. 

. It finally happened here. 8 August 1968. 

Keeping the racial balance in Miami schools. 16 

April 1968. 

. Let's keep Miami cool this summer. 16 June 1967. 

. Miami is not like Selma. 12 July 1965. 

. Racial disharmony stirred at new school site. 13 

July 1965. 

. Violence sometimes teaches a lesson. 16 August 

. The price of corruption. 6 September 1966. 

_. What are you saying, Chief McNutt? 17 November 


. What is the hoax? 16 February 1967. 

. The violent end of a man of peace. 5 April 1968. 


Squelching the spread of racial rumors. 16 May 


. Southern heritage: Living on without Dixie. 27 

September 1968. 
. Tough talk for a tough situation. 24 October 

. The reason why. 28 March 1973. 

. Viewers speak on Channel Four's restaurant series. 

12 April 1973. 
_. There ought to be a law. 16 April 1973. 

The restaurant men who can' t stand the heat- 

should stay in their kitchens. 16 May 1973. 

Government Documents 

U.S. Federal Communications Commission. 1941. The Yankee 
Network (WAAB) , Docket 5618 and 5640, 16 January. 

U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Broadcast Actions of 
the Federal Communications Commission Washington, DC, 
Report No. 3207, Public Notice B, 60209, 19 June. 


Bissell, Windsor. 1997. Interview by author, October 10, 
Jacksonville Beach. Tape recording. 

Brechner, Marion. 1998. Interview by author, 22 April, 
Winter Park, Florida. Tape recording. 

. 1998. Interview by author, 9 March, Winter Park. 

Tape recording. 

Davis, Norm. 1997. Interview by author, 6 October, Miami. 
Tape recording. 

Dean, Walter. 2000. Telephone conversation with author, 1 
May. Hand-written notes. 


Fuqua-Cardwell, Kathy Amick. 1998. Interview by author, 20 
February, Orlando. Tape recording. 

Garrard, Patricia, Renick' s sister. 2000. Interview by 
author, 12 March, North Miami. Tape Recording. 

Martin, Richard. 1997. Interview by author, 15 October, 
Jacksonville. Tape recording. 

Pinder, Father Nelson. 1998. Interview by author, 9 March, 
Orlando. Tape recording. 

Renick, Ralph, Jr.. 2000. Interview by author, 12 March, 
Miami. Tape recording. 

Renick, Richard, Ralph's brother. 2000. Interview by author, 
11 March, Miami. Tape recording. 

Ruester, Ray. 1998. Telephone interview by author, 26 
February. Tape recording. 

. 1998. Telephone interview by author, 23 April. 

Tape recording. 

Spiedell, Rosalie, Ralph Renick' s mother. 2000. Interview by 
author, 11 March, Miami. 

Tanzler, Hans former Jacksonville mayor. 1997. Telephone 
interview by author, 7 November. Tape recording. 

Thomas, John. 1997. Interview by author, 8 November, 
Talahassee. Tape recording. 

Journal Articles 

Alexander, S.L. 1992. May the good news be yours: Ralph 
Renick and Florida' s first news. Mass Coram Review 
(Winter-Spring, vl9, nl-2) : 57-63. 

Altschull, J.H. 1996. A crisis of conscience: Is community 
journalism the answer? Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 
(11-3): 166-172. 


Anderson, R. , Dardenne, R., and Killenberg, G.M. 1996. The 
7American newspaper as the public conversational 
commons. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, (11,3): 159- 

Barney, Ralph. 1996. Community journalism: Good intentions, 
questionable practice. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 
(11, 3) : 140-151. 

Barrett, Edward W. 1966. Once opposed, Columbia dean okays 
editorials. RTNDA Bulletin, September. 

Carey, James. 1985. The problem of journalism history. 
Journalism History: 3. 

Corrigan, Don. 1997. Racial pledges, gang summits, election 
forums — What actually makes a public journalism 
project? St. Louis Journalism Review: (21, March), 1. 

Einstein, Paul. 1967. Camera on corruption. The Quill, 
(May) 12. 

Glasser, T.L., and Craft, S. 1996. Public journalism and the 
prospects for press accountability. Journal of Mass 
Media Ethics, (11,3): 152-158. 

Hartung, B. 1981. Attitudes toward the applicability of the 
Hutchins report on press responsibility. Journalism 
Quarterly: 58 (3) (Fall) : 428-433. 

Hodges, L. 1996. Ruminations about the communitarian debate. 
Journal of Mass media Ethics, (11, 3) : 133-139. 

Holmes, Robert. 1957. The broadcasters' duty to 

editorialize. Journal of Broadcasting (Spring): 141. 

Mclntyre, J. S. 1979. The Hutchins Commission' s search 
for a moral framework. Journalism History 6,2, 
(Summer) : 56. 

Mclntyre, J. S. 1987. Repositioning a landmark: The Hutchins 
Commission and freedom of the press. Critical Studies 
in Mass Communication (4) : 136-160. 


McMillin, John E. 1964. Voices in a new democracy. 

Television Quarterly (Summer, Vol. Ill, No. 3): 27. 

Merritt, Davis, Jr., and McMasters, Paul. 1996. Merritt and 
McMasters debate public journalism. Journal of Mass 
Media Ethics (11,3, 1996): 171-183. 

Mitchell, Catherine C. 1990. The place of biography in the 
history of women. American Journalism, vol. 7, no. 
1, (Winter) : 23-38. 

Unsigned. 1958. The editorial: TV finds its voice. 
Television Quarterly (Winter,): 21. 

Unsigned. 1985. Radio-TV newsmen prod themselves. Editor and 
Publisher. (25 October): 65. 

Willey, Susan. 1998. Civic journalism in practice: Case 
studies in the art of listening. Newspaper Research 
Journal, 19 (Winter): 16. 


Tripp, Bernell. 1998. Class lecture in Biography as 
History, 26 August, University of Florida. 

Winn, Billy. Lecture in Problems and Ethics in Journalism, 
University of Florida, Spring 1996. 

Magazine Articles 

Hornerger, Michael. 1966. How TV can move a city into 
action. Television Magazine (October) : 43. 

Miami' s restaurants were bugged until we blew the whistle. 
1973. Broadcasting (20 August): 42. 

Shepard, Alicia. 1996. The Pew connection. American 
Journalism Review (April): 24. 

Television raises its voice. 1958. TV Guide, (23 
April): 5. 

Miscel laneous 

National Association of Broadcasters. 1959. Editorializing 
on the air. 

Renick, Ralph. 1959. Statement to the FCC, Washington, D.C. 
(Docket number 12782, 15 December) . 

WTVJ-TV. 1958. The Television Editorial (March). 

Blanchard, M.A. 1997. The Hutchins Commission, the press and 
the responsibility concept. Journalism Monographs 
(May): 11. 

Danna, Sammy R. 1965. Broadcast editorializing. Freedom of 
Information Center Publication No. 141, School of 
Journalism, University of Missouri. 

Newspaper Artifilps 

AP. 1967. Reds down five copters near Saigon. Florida 
Times-Onion, 8 August, A-l. 

. 1967. Negroes stage Capitol protest. Florida Times- 

Union, 8 August, A-l 

As Negro houses burned at Ocoee great mass of ammunition is 
exploded. 1920. Orlando Morning Sentinel, 4 November 

Block, Alex Ben. 1973. Taking notice. Miami News, 13 April, 

Buchanan, Jim. 1968. 14 Negro students arrested after UM 
demonstration. Miami Herald, 15 May, 1A. 

Crosby, John. 1958. TV finally dares editorials on news 
Detroit Free Press, 10 March, cited in Cusack, 201. 

. 1958. TV stations with opinions. New York 

Herald Tribune, 9 March, Sec. 4, 1 

Crouse, Richard. 1966. Commission flayed on city insurance; 
Jurors condemn actions. Times-Union, 1 July, A-l. 


Disneyworld to aid area. 1967. Florida Times-Union, 1 
August, B-l. 

Dr. King's plea moves seventeen Rabbis to join St. Augustine 
protest. 1964. The New York Times, 5 June, 18. 

Eiland, Darrell. 1973. Restaurant business slumps. Miami 
Herald, 15 May, 2B. 

Era of progress, hope has ended Miami Negro says. 1968. 
Miami Herald, 5 April, 20A. 

Feldkamp, Robert H. 1968. Tattered "army of the poor" 

reaches D.C. promised land. Miami Herald, 14 May, 1A. 

Florida Negroes are pessimistic. 1968. Miami Herald, 5 
April, 13A. 

Foley, Michael. 1988. A challenging new dimension to 
service. The Irish Times, 1 April, 23. 

Forrestal casualty list includes six local men. 1967. 
Florida Times-Union, August 1, B-l. 

Forty years of service, 1925-1965. 1965. Miami News 
Supplement, 14 July, 12 

Friedman, Saul, 1968. Choice is massive change or riots. 
Miami Herald, 15 May, 10A. 

Gordon, M. 1996. Civic journalism: Involving the public. 
Seattle Times, 17 April, B5. 

Gould, Jack. 1949. The FCC issues a report on the right of 
broadcasters to air their views. New York Times, 12 
June, 9. 

Grace, Arthur. 1957. Renick takes a big step without any 
controversy. Miami News, 9 September, 12A. 

Green, J.C. 1966. Grand jury blasts city in car purchases, 
use. Times-Union, August 13, A-l. 

1966. Grand jury probe into alleged city waste is 

ordered. Florida Times-Union, May 28, A-l. 


Gruzner, Charles. 1968. End papers. New York Times, 13 
April, 23. 

Guardsmen leaving Milwaukee as Detroit emergency ends. 1967. 
Florida Times-Union, August 8, A-l. 

Hoey, Tom. 1967. Most Neptune residents at meet oppose 
merger. Florida rimes-Union, July 14, B-l. 

Hughes, Frank. 1947. The professors and the press. Chicago 
Tribune, 27 April, 22F. 

It's the silly season again. 1967. Editorial, Clearwater 
Sun, 19 April. 

Jacobs, Sam. 1973. Goldberg would strengthen law on dirty 
restaurants. Miami Herald, 12 May, 2B. 

Langguth, Jack. 1963. 3 in sit-in beaten at Jackson store. 
New York Times, 29 May, 1. 

Lundy, Walker. 1966. An aggressive grand jury drops 
political bombs. Cocoa Today, 30 October. 

Major merchants will integrate sales force. 1963. Orlando 
Sentinel, 11 June, Al. 

Martin, Richard. 1967. We recommend consolidation. Florida 
Times-Union, August 8, A-l. 

_. 1967. Consolidation proposal faces final test at 

polls tomorrow. Florida Times-Union, August 8, A-l. 

Michaels, Bob. 1981. Renick, Cronkite: Parallel goes deeper 
than style. Palm Beach Post, 3 March, 85. 

Nashville-our metro model; How goes consolidation there? 
1967. Florida Times-Union, August 1, B-3. 

Negro gangs roam D.C.; No shooting. 1967. Florida Times- 
Union, 1 August, A-l. 

Race protest start vowed in St. Johns. 1964. Florida Times- 
Union, 27 May, 29. 


Radio editorials. 1949. New York Times, 4 June, 12L. 

Rasmussen, Maria. 1967. 100,000 turnout is forecast today 
for merger vote. Florida Times-Union, 8 August, A-l. 

Roberts, Jack. 1966. The carpers. Miami News, 16 September, 

Shatzin, Kate. 1999. Ways to shake up the news media; 
Innovation. Baltimore Sun, 8 August, 2A. 

Shister, Neil. 1982. The Renick regime turns 30. Miami 
Herald, 10 November, TV Section, 5. 

Sigler, Joe. 1967. Consolidation scores big victory. Florida 
Times-Union, 9 August, A-l. 

Sosin, Milt. 1967. Gunman sentenced for Renick threat. Miami 
Herald, 26 January, 3A. 

Special study of riots urged. 1967. Florida Times-Union, 1 
August, A-l 

St. Augustine mob attacks Negroes. 1964. New York Times, 26 
June, 1. 

Stadium brawl blamed on troublemakers seeking to exploit 
racism. 1968. Orlando Sentinel, 29 September, 10A. 

Two members of council endorse consolidation. 1997. Florida 
Times-Union, 12 July, Bl. 

UPI. 1967. 637 th U.S. plane felled over North. Florida 
Times-Union, 8 August, A-l. 

1967. House votes $75 million anticrime bill. 

Florida Times-Union, 9 August, A-l. 

. 1967. Warships shell Red positions. Florida Times- 
Union, 9 August, A-l. 

1967. U.S. employment hits record high in July; 

Decline erased. Florida Times-Union, 9 August, A-l 

Volker, Al. 1973. Restaurateurs: Publicity hurts. Miami 
News, 15 May, 1A 


Waldron, Martin. 1966. TV station stirs Florida inquiry. New 
York Times, 31 July. 

Wife of TV's Ralph Renick dies after long illness. 1964. 
Miami Herald, 14 June, 3A. 

Woods, Sherry. 1977. What keeps Renick on top. Miami News, 
19 January, 7A. 

Yardley, J. 1996. Fast Eddie slows down. Atlanta 
Constitution, 7 January, 8c. 

Speeche s and Addresses 

Billinglea, Robert. 1988. Address at Chamber of Commerce 
luncheon honoring Brechner, Radisson Hotel, Lake 
Ivanhoe, 8 March. 

Fellows, Harold. 1959. Address to the NAB, Chicago: 1. Cited 
in Cusack, 193. 

Doerfer, John C. 1958. Editorially speaking - a time for 
action. Address to the National Association of 
Broadcasters, Los Angeles: 29 April. Cited in Cusack, 2. 

Renick, Ralph. Address, 13 th Annual RTNDA Convention, 
Chicago: 16 October, 4. Cited in Ashdown, 72. 

Wolf son, Mitchell. 1963. Statement before the Subcommittee on 
Communications and Power of the House Interstate Foreign 
Commerce Committee, 20 September. Cited in Flannery 

Studies. Surve ys, and Reports 

Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of 
Connecticut, The Freedom Forum Media Studies Center and 
the Newseum. 1999. Freedom Forum survey. 
http://www.freedomfnrum.ora/fi rst/sofa/1999/welr.nme . 

First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. 1999. 
State of the First Amendment: A survey of public 
Attitudes, a Freedom Forum survey, Nashville 


Kerner, Otto (Chmn) . 1968. Report of the National Advisory 

Commission on Civil Disorders, New York: New York Times 

Local Government Study Commission of Duval County. 1966. 
Blueprint for improvement, Jacksonville, FL. 

Mitchell, R.O. (Chmn.) . 1965. Racial and civil disorders in 
St. Augustine. Report of the Legislative Investigation 
Committee, February, Tallahassee, FL. 

Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, The Freedom Forum 
Media Studies Center and the Newseum. 1997. Newseum 
survey. http: //www. f reed omfornm. org/ i nriex. html 

Rosen, Jay. 1993. Community connectedness: Passwords for 
public journalism. The Poynter Papers: No. 3, The 
Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburq 

Schaffer, Jan, and Miller, Edward D. eds. 1995. Civic 

journalism: Six case studies. Pew Center for Civic 
Journalism and The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, 
Washington, DC. 

Thorsen, Esther, and Friedland, Lewis A. 1996. Civic lessons, 
Philadelphia: Pew Center for Civic Journalism. 

Unoubl i shed Manuscr i pt s 

Brechner, Joe. Circa 1990. What I always say, Orlando 

Glover, Joe. 1997. Media influence on city-county 

consolidation in Jacksonville and Duval County, 
Florida, 1967, Gainesville, FL: University of 

Web Sii-PH 

Pew Center for Civic Journalism, Http: //www. pewcenter nr q 

Poynter Institute, Http: //www. poynter .org/connect .htm 


Joseph Lawrence Glover received his bachelor' s degree 
from the University of Miami in 1961. He spent the next 
thirty-five years working in radio and television news, 
stopping in markets, large and small, all over the country. 
He worked in Miami, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, New 
York, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Francisco, Salinas, and 
Detroit. He reported from Korea, Germany, Italy, the 
Caribbean, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. After 
semi-retiring to scuba dive for two years, he returned to 
academia, receiving his master' s degree from the University 
of Florida in 1997 and then stayed to pursue his doctoral 
degree at UF. He will begin work as an assistant professor 
of telecommunication at the University of Florida in fall 


I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

F. Leslie Smith, Chairman 
Professor of Journalism and 

I certify that I have read this study and that in 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

j //. a 

David H. Ostroff 
Professor of Journalism and 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

Bernell E. Tripp 
Associate Professor of Journalism 
and Communications 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

John W. Wright 
Professor of Journalism and 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 


Thomas P. Auxter 

Associate Professor of Philosophy 

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate 
Faculty of the College of Journalism and Communications and 
to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial 
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of 

August 2000 

Dean, College of Journalism and 

Dean, Graduate School 


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